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Immigration News

Joyous Families Celebrate Historic Breakthrough on Immigration

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 20, 2014
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to the existing DACA program for DREAMers and a series of other administrative and enforcement reforms to update our outdated immigration system will provide major relief to immigrant families.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.


Capitol Police Yell at Small Children, Threaten Arrest

This week, kids from around the country descended on Washington to demand action on immigration reform. This morning, kids and their parents visited the offices of House Republicans to try to meet with them, tell their stories of family separation, and ask for their support. Many of the kids were snubbed, ignored, turned away, and even escorted out by Capitol Police, but no group was disrespected more than the group of children that attempted to visit Speaker of the House John Boehner’s office.

Kids came to the office bearing homemade Christmas cards, singing, “We pray for Speaker Boehner, we pray for Speaker Boehner, we pray for Speaker Boehner, bring a vote for reform.” Two Capitol police officers break into the group, yelling, “This is getting old real fast. This is a place of business and we do not tolerate singing in the hallway, comprende?”

The officer’s harsh words were met with terrified stares from the small children, which included six-year-old Gabriel Arista of North Carolina, and seven-year-old Michelle Catano of California. Organizers comfort and reassure the children, and apologize to the officers, telling them, “We’re going to pray quietly; we’re not going to sing.”

The officer responds by telling her again that “this is getting old real fast,” and threatens to “start making arrests.”

After the encounter, Gabriel, the seven-year-old boy in the “Keeping My Family Together” t-shirt, said to organizer Mehrdad Azemun, “We did not see that man’s good side today.”

Watch the full encounter here:

Fair Immigration Reform Movement Encouraged by House Democrats Introducing a Path to Citizenship

More Work Must be Done to Keep Families Together

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) applauded House Democrats for introducing an immigration reform bill today that is based on bipartisan policy and includes a path to citizenship, but said their bill must go further than the Senate’s version to ensure a path to citizenship is available to the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

“Ultimately, a House bill must put our families first and eliminate all wasteful and unnecessary enforcement measures that will destroy our communities,” said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos. “Any House bill must set forth a reasonable time to gain citizenship, maintain diversity visas and retain sibling categories. This bill fails those criteria and falls short of reflecting our nation’s values.”

“However, the action by House Democrats has filled a void of leadership and challenged GOP leadership on their lack of responsible action to finish critical work on immigration reform with a path to citizenship,” Matos added. “It’s beyond time for Speaker Boehner to bring real immigration reform for a vote. Since the Senate passed its bill in late June, over 100,000 families have been torn apart through deportations, separating families and causing serious harm in our communities. The House of Representatives must act now.”

“Congress has the best opportunity in decades to address the moral crisis created by our outdated immigration laws. The solution is citizenship and House Democrats took an important step toward that solution with the introduction of a bill with bipartisan support for a path to citizenship. Now it’s time for the GOP to step up and get immigration reform done and done right,” Matos said.

For English language Media:

Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org (202) 339-9331, (202) 441-3798 (cell)

For Spanish language Media:

Ricardo Ramírez, rramirez@communitychange.org (202) 339-9371, (202) 905-1738 (cell)

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