FIRM Groups Meet in Birmingham, Alabama, Caravan to New Orleans for Hearing on Immigration to Denounce Litigation that Delays President Obama’s Relief Programs
BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA—Leaders from the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), the nation’s largest network of immigrant rights organizations, and other allies met in Birmingham, Alabama today to lift up the plight of immigrant families affected by the injunction that has blocked President Obama’s administrative relief programs. These leaders were joined by local faith based leaders and Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, who spoke in support of these programs:
“This injunction is only hurting immigrant families,” said William A. Bell, Mayor of Birmingham. “We need to lift the ban to allow families to remain united in these United States. It is imperative to find pathways to allow these people to continue to be vital contributors to our communities and to be treated with dignity. Our voices need to be heard in order to remove the injustice that is being put upon these families.”
Araceli Macias of ACIJ and her daughter Rene Elizalde shared their own story: “We came here with nothing but a bag full of dreams,” said Araceli. “We work hard every day and we will keep fighting because I believe this executive action will give us back a piece of our identities that we left behind in our countries. It will gives us back our voice that we have had to silence in the face of injustice. This action will help us not live in fear that our families will be broken up. It will allow our children to follow their dreams.”
“America is said to be the home of the brave and of the free,” said Rene. “I am brave, but I am not free.” Rene added that all she wants is to be able to follow her dreams just like all her American citizen classmates.
“Politicians are playing with our families,” said Michelle Morales with GLAHR. “Our families cannot wait. We need the courts to lift the injunction.”
“We are fighting for freedom,” said Elver Barrios with LAC. “We are going to New Orleans with our head held high to tell those judges that we are here to stay. We are Americans like everyone else. We are strong together and we will fight hard for our families.”
Rev. Angie Wright, Associate Director for Greater Birmingham Ministries and pastor at Beloved Community United Church of Christ in Avondale said a blessing for the caravan asking for “strength and wisdom and strong hearts to challenge oppression and call out for justice and mercy.”
“We have to keep fighting so our children will have a better future,” said Evelyn Servin, organizer with ACIJ. “We are an immigrant family. We contribute something beautiful. We make this country richer, and not just economically, but in culture. And so we must keep fighting,” said Servin.
“All over the country, immigrants and their supporters are standing up to make sure our voices are heard,” said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos. “We will continue to do so — in Alabama, in New Orleans and all over the country. The law is on our side, as are the majority of Americans, who support the President’s actions. We will not give up until we prevail.”
FIRM and ally groups present included: the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ), Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), and Latin American Coalition (LAC from North Carolina).
This group is part of a larger caravan with delegations from 8 Southeast states convening in New Orleans on Friday. There are over 20 solidarity events going on around the country lifting up the families impacted by the delays caused by this lawsuit of the President’s administrative relief programs.