A project of the Center for Community Change

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Joyous Families Celebrate Historic Breakthrough on Immigration

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 20, 2014
Contact:
Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org 202.339.9331
Bernardita M. Yunis Varas, byunisvaras@communitychange.org 202.339.9377

Joyous Families Celebrate Historic Breakthrough on Immigration
Years of Courage and Persistence Pay Off in Huge Step Forward on Immigration

(WASHINGTON)—Today, millions of immigrant families are celebrating the historic breakthrough on immigration that provides them with the opportunity to remain in the U.S. and continue to contribute to America. The new deferred action program for parents, crucial updates to the existing DACA program for DREAMers and a series of other administrative and enforcement reforms to update our outdated immigration system will provide major relief to immigrant families.

“President Obama did not win or lose and the GOP did not win or lose today,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). “This is a major victory for the immigrant rights movement in America. This victory belongs to the millions of immigrants who stood up and were unafraid.”

“This victory was more than a decade in the making and it shows that America does give way to the voices of real people,” Matos added. “Women won the right to vote, the labor movement built the middle class, people standing up for civil rights ended Jim Crow, LGBT people are ending marriage discrimination as we speak. And today, the immigrant rights movement led by families took a huge step in the fight for immigration reform and toward citizenship.”

“The President’s decision will transform the lives of millions of people who came to this country in search of a better life. This year, families will sit down at the Thanksgiving table with less fear that a broken immigration system will tear them apart.”

Matos noted the administrative reforms announced by President Obama will not cover all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

“The struggle is not over until everyone has freedom from fear of detention, deportation and family separation,” Matos said. “We will not stop fighting until everyone has a path to citizenship.”

She also noted that the enforcement reforms announced by the Administration could offer protection to many of the people not covered by deferred action – if they are actually implemented properly by DHS.

“We are committed to keep fighting to ensure that DHS reins in ICE and CBP, agencies that routinely ignore their own stated enforcement priorities,” Matos said.

She also noted that the action announced today is temporary and that we need comprehensive immigration reform as a permanent fix.

“To those who would try to take this victory away and tell immigrant families ‘you are not welcome,’ we say you are on the wrong side of history,” Matos said. “Like all those who have stood against the arc of justice, you will be judged harshly. We will not forget. The immigrant rights movement is committed to full scale mobilization, not only to protect this historic step, but to parlay it into full inclusion and citizenship for all families.”

“This victory belongs to immigrants who stood up and said ‘I am a part of America and I am not afraid,’” Matos said.

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Youth Activists Tell Their Stories

Today, 17 activists, four of whom were minors, visited the offices of Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Eric Cantor, and Speaker John Boehner to demand that they put an end to family separation by bringing immigration reform to a vote in the House.

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Unfortunately, Mr. McCarthy locked out our young activists, refusing to let in even his own constituents. So they were forced to send him their messages by way of the mail slot.

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Those visiting Rep. Cantor’s office were let in, but Mr. Cantor was out of the office so activists spoke with his staff. Young leaders told their family stories of separation and asked staff to pass on the importance of passing immigration reform to the congressman.

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All of the activists then converged on the office of Speaker John Boehner. His office was locked as well, and the activists sat down in the hallway outside the Speaker’s door, holding hands and chanting until Capitol Police handcuffed them and took them away one by one.

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The youngest arrestee was 12-year-old Esteban, who is here today with his mother fighting for his undocumented stepfather. Esteban and his four younger siblings have experienced the pain of deportation first-hand. About a year ago, Esteban’s father was deported, and Esteban says he does not want other kids to have to go through the same pain he went through.

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Below, Esteban and some of the other young activists from today’s action tell their stories and talk about why they are here today.

Esteban, age 12:

Ashley, age 18

Hector, age 15

Brian, age 22

For more photos from today’s event, click here to follow us on Facebook.

Keep Families Together Summit

Last week, 84 families, leaders and staff members from 21 states came to Washington, DC to participate in the Keep Families Together Summit. These immigration advocates took part in extensive training sessions to bring new leadership, communication and organizing skills back to their home states. They also embarked on two days of legislative visits, press conferences and major actions, demanding that Congress act once and for all on immigration reform, and that the White House put an end to the senseless deportations that are tearing families apart.

Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the FIRM group the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said that families came to DC with one message; “…that we will never stop fighting to stop the family separation crisis that grips our community and that our political voice will not be silenced. We want a path to citizenship now and we want needless deportations which tear our families apart to end.”

Check out this video, courtesy of Reform Immigration for America, for a complete recap of last week’s events:

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