A project of the Center for Community Change

FIRM Spotlight

A Special Day for Me


5This week, Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) leaders went to the House Judiciary Committee to voice their disapproval for the SAFE Act, a bill that takes the extreme measure of instantly turning millions of undocumented people into criminals.


As soon as the committee chairman sat down, FIRM leaders stood up, clapped in rhythm, shouting, “Shame! Shame! Shame! We are all the same! Stop the pain! Stop the pain!” The police quickly intervened and removed them from the hearing room, but this was not the end.


In the hallway, there were about 80 supporters, clapping and yelling, “Si se puede!” to cheer on the brave action inside the room.

Although the bill passed through the Committee, the action was still significant. We made our voices heard. I feel honored to have been there, to be one of the placeholders to speak for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

Though people of Asian descent make up 18% of the undocumented population in the United States, I was one of just three Asian protesters in the crowd. As an Asian American immigrant, I feel proud that I have had the opportunity to stand up against hate before the Judiciary Committee members and the press, and I hope that more Asian Americans will step out of their comfort zones to join the fight.



DACA’s One-year Anniversary

131A year ago, President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for young people who were brought to the U.S. when they were children by their immigrant parents. The program is a reprieve from deportation and a chance for DREAMers to get a work permit, which has helped transform many lives. As an immigrant, I may not understand their fear of being taken away, but I do understand the fear of losing everything you have been building.

I think the essence of coming to America is giving people infinite opportunities to make impossibilities become possible.

When I was in my native China, I was spoiled and highly dependent on my parents. I was an average student who couldn’t dig into my deeper soul and know what I wanted because I had everything prepared by my parents. I didn’t know how to cook, never worked, never paid a bill. I didn’t know people were struggling with discrimination issues. I could never imagine that families were being torn apart. My only concern in life was studying hard, getting good grades, attending a top university and graduating.

After my family came to the U.S., I began to realize what I was capable of. I could hold two part-time jobs while I worked to earn my G.E.D. I could pay the bills for my entire family all on my own. I could work as a Registered Nursing Assistant even though biology was never my strong suit. I could gain acceptance into U.C. Berkeley, one of the best universities in the world, and then be selected to attend their U.C. Washington Center program. I could be hired to work on immigration reform at the Center for Community Change, first as an intern and now as a fellow.

I’m so grateful for all that I’ve been able to accomplish. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t come to the U.S. And I’m now fighting for DREAMers who have the same enthusiasm and hope for the future as I do. We should all be granted equal status so that we can make our lives better and contribute to the country we love.

Immigrant Rights Organizations Announce Next Steps in Fight for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

For Immediate Release
April 25, 2013

Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org, 202-339-9331, 202-441-3798 (cell)
Spanish Language Media:
Ricardo Ramírez, rramirez@communitychange.org, 202-339-9371, 202-905-1738 (cell)

Major Actions Include May 1st Events, Children’s Marches, Vigils, Congressional Visits

(WASHINGTON)—The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a coalition of the nation’s largest and most powerful immigrant rights groups today announced its next steps in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. FIRM will have a constant presence at the Capitol, conduct thousands of lobby visits, deliver of thousands of photos of families torn apart by the broken immigration system, host massive turnout events across the country on May 1st, lead children’s marches on Mother’s Day and conduct prayer vigils.

“This past election cycle demonstrated our enormous and growing political power. We will harness that power – on the streets, online, through our massive phone banking programs, historic voter engagement and lobbying by immigrant families themselves – to improve this bill and move immigration reform forward now,” said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos.

“Every day that Congress fails to pass immigration reform legislation, 1100 families are torn apart. It is immoral and cruel that family members who would be eligible for citizenship under this bill are being detained and deported even as we speak,” Matos added. “We are calling on the Administration to put a moratorium on all deportations while Congress debates the bill.”

As the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first markup session on the Gang of Eight’s bill, members of CASA in Action held a vigil on Capitol Hill to remind the Senators of the families greatly affected by our broken immigration system.

“FIRM commends the introduction of the Senate’s immigration bill as a historic step toward humane policy reform but there is a lot of room for improvement. FIRM will fight to improve it even as we are working to move it forward,” Matos said. “Immigrant families will be a constant presence as much as possible on the Hill. Senators must not put politics over people.”

As the immigration debate goes on, FIRM will keep the focus on families with May 1st events taking place nationwide, children’s marches on Mother’s Day, thousands of lobby visits, the delivery of thousands of photos of undocumented immigrants and vigils.

Following is a list of May 1st events:

Birmingham, AL
Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice
More than 3,000 people will march through Birmingham; the march will begin at 5:00 p.m. at Linn Park (710 20th St. N, Birmingham, Alabama).

Phoenix, AZ
Promise Arizona
At 5:30 p.m. crowds will rally at the State Capitol in Phoenix and march to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix.

Los Angeles, CA
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
30,000 people will gather at noon for a kick-off rally at Olympic and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. They will march to La Placita Olvera.

Oakland, CA
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
At 3:00 p.m., 5,000 will gather at the Fruitvale BART for a rally and march.

Denver, CO
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
There will be a community rally and march beginning at 11:00 a.m. on the west steps of the Capitol.

Boise, ID
Alliance for a Just Society
Thousands are expected to participate in a march in Boise, Idaho.
Marchers will begin arriving at Julia Davis Park at 4:00 p.m.; the program will begin at 5:00 p.m. and the march to the Capitol will start at 6:00 p.m.

Chicago, IL
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)
2 p.m.: Rally kicks off in Union Park (Ashland and Lake). The march will begin at 3:00 p.m. with a rally at the Haymarket memorial (Randolph and Desplaines) at 3:30 and a rally at Federal Plaza (Jackson and Dearborn) at 4:00 p.m.

Portland, ME
Maine People’s Alliance
The Maine People’s Alliance will join with faith, labor, community rights and other groups at 4:00 p.m. The march will begin at 6:00 p.m. in Lincoln Park on Congress Street.

Bozeman, MT
Montana Organizing Project
Buses from five Montana cities will drop participants off at Lindley Park. Participants will gather in the park for salsa line dance lessons and refreshments at 1:00 p.m. and at 1:45 p.m. they will march down Main Street to the front of the Bozeman Public Library.

Las Vegas, NV
Reno, NV
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)
10,000 people are expected to join PLAN and a coalition of labor, faith, civic, community and other immigrant rights groups as they rally at 4:30 p.m. at the federal building in downtown Las Vegas.

In Reno, PLAN’s march will begin at 3:00 p.m. in Reno City Plaza.

New York, NY
The New York Immigrant Coalition (NYIC)
NYIC will join with labor unions, immigrant rights groups and immigrants in a large rally. Tens of thousands of immigrants and supporters are expected to attend.
4 p.m. start at Union Square that will end at City Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Cleveland, OH
Ohio Organizing Collaborative and Ohio Prophetic Voices
At 5 p.m. there will be a rally in the public square in downtown Cleveland.

Salem, OR
CAUSA Oregon
5,000 people from across the state will rally on the steps of the Capitol in Salem at 11:00 a.m.

Washington State
OneAmerica will host six marches statewide in Wenatchee, Yakima, Spokane, Walla Walla, Vancouver and Mount Vernon.
Wenatchee march: 6 p.m., Lincoln Park.
Yakima march: 5:30 pm, Miller Park.
Spokane march: 1 pm, Riverfront Park.
Walla Walla march: 5 pm, Jefferson Park.
Vancouver march: 6 pm, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office.
Mt. Vernon march: 3:30 pm, Skagit Valley College.

Milwaukee, WI
Voces de la Frontera
Voces de la Frontera will march with elected officials and leaders from labor, public education, faith, civil rights and the LGBT community. Thousands of people are expected to attend.
The groups will assemble at Voces de la Frontera at 11:00 a.m. (1027 S. 5th St., Milwaukee). They will march to Pere Marquette Park (at 3rd and State) for a mass rally.


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