Immigrant Rights Organizations Praise Senate’s Passage of Reform, Recall Long Fight on Road to Victory
For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 27, 2013
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Vow to use political power to pass humane, just immigration reform
(WASHINGTON) - The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a coalition of the nation’s largest and most powerful immigrant rights groups, today praised the Senate for passing its immigration bill and recounted the long journey in the effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform and FIRM’s prominent role in the fight.
“This bill is not perfect. The path to citizenship is long and arduous. Too many immigrants are unnecessarily excluded based on arbitrary restrictions,” said Kica Matos, FIRM spokesperson. “The unprecedented militarization of our border will jeopardize human rights and cost lives unless we are able to add significant civil rights safeguards. Still, a real path to citizenship that keeps families together has been endorsed by 68 Senators in a historic vote.”
“We have persevered because of our strong and growing political power. We have harnessed that power in the field, online, through a massive phone banking program, historic voter engagement and lobbying by immigrant families themselves to make this vote happen,” Matos said.
FIRM has had a constant presence at the U.S. Capitol and in district offices throughout the country. We have conducted nearly 1,000 lobby visits, actions and events since December that turned out a total of two million participants. We helped generate over 350,000 calls to Congress since January urging support for immigration reform that keeps families together and secures a path to citizenship.
On April 10, FIRM member CASA in Action and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) heroically led turn out of more than 100,000 immigrant families and their supporters from more than 30 states representing every member of FIRM to fill the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. In one voice, they demanded Congress to act now to pass immigration reform legislation that provides a clear and direct path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented Americans. The U.S. Senate finally heard them.
Today we also reflect on the many other battles we have won along the way. In 2010, Latino voters used that power to re-elect Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid and beat back a ferocious challenge by Tea Party darling and anti-immigrant extremist Sharon Angle. Similarly in Colorado, immigration reform champion Michael Bennet beat restrictionist Ken Buck who attacked our communities. Our power helped keep the Senate in Democratic hands, allowing today’s victory to even be possible.
In 2011, our movement helped oust Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, primary sponsor of Arizona SB1070, the strictest, most hateful, anti-immigrant legislation in the country. He was the first legislator in Arizona history to be recalled.
In 2012, we launched the Keeping Families Together campaign to tell the stories of how our broken immigration system has torn their families apart. The Keeping Families Together campaign sponsored a national bus tour in which families visited 19 states in more than 90 cities and 100 congressional districts. They ended the tour in Washington, D.C. where they demanded that Congress introduce legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the undocumented and restore family unity as a core principle in all aspects of our immigration law.
“Today, we won a historic battle in the Senate, but the war wages on. Until we pass humane, just and comprehensive immigration reform we will continue to fight to improve the bill even as we are working to move it forward,” said Matos. “Immigration reform is first and foremost about families and the moral crisis that our broken immigration system visits on ournation’s communities every day. We will not forget or forgive those who stand for policies that delay immediate action to end the destruction of our families.”
We will continue to demand and fight for:
· A path to citizenship for all members of our community;
· Reuniting families and reducing immigration backlogs;
· Opportunities for safe future migration and worker protections;
· Border policies that respect border and immigrant communities;
· Fair enforcement policies that respect the safety and security of all;
· Fundamental due process; and
· Opportunities to recognize immigrants’ full humanity.