Largest Grassroots Immigrant Rights Organization joined tens of thousands of activists, leaders and policymakers on the National Mall for The Camino Americano: Rally and March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect
For Immediate Release: October 8, 2013 Contact: For English-language Media: Donna De La Cruz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-339-9331, 202-441-3798 (cell) For Spanish-language Media: Ricardo Ramírez, email@example.com, 202-339-9371, 202-905-1738 (cell)
More than 70 members of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement participated in civil disobedience action and risked arrest to demand immigration reform now
Washington, DC – The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) joined tens of thousands of people from across the country gathered today in the nation’s capital to demand the House Republican leadership pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
Following mass mobilizations in more than 160 cities over the weekend, “Camino Americano: March for Immigration Reform” continued the movement’s plans of escalation for the month of October to ensure Congress votes and approves immigration reform before the end of this year.
To send a strong message that the time is now, 200 people, including more than 70 members of FIRM, risked arrest today in an act of non-violent, civil disobedience in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Among those participating in the action was Gina Sanchez, a mother of three and small business owner from Phoenix, AZ.
“I’m doing this to remind Congress there are millions of other people like me whose families suffer every day because of our immigration system,” said Sanchez, who has been separated from her daughters for 14 years. “I have a son who was born here, but because I must work here to support them and I cannot cross legally back and forth into the United States, my family cannot be together. As much as I have suffered, I know my children have suffered more.”
Along with Sanchez, other members of FIRM who risked arrest included:
- Gustavo Torres, CASA de Maryland
Gustavo joined CASA de Maryland’s staff as a community organizer, and has served as CASA’s Executive Director since 1994. Under his leadership, CASA has grown from an organization with a handful of staff members to a nationally awarded multi-service Latino rights organization.
- Jonathan Heller and Mary Dailey, Center for Community Change (CCC)
Jonathan is the Chair of the Board of CCC and co-founder of Human Impact Partners, which helps organizations and public agencies who work with low-income communities and communities of color understand the effects of current or proposed projects and policies on community health through training, technical assistance and research.
Mary is the lead organizer on retirement security issues for CCC. Dailey leads the Center’s work on protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She previously directed the center’s Health Care campaign and its field efforts as part of the Health Care for America Now campaign.
- Miguel Leal, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Miguel came to the United States when he was 10 and was one of the seven young people who told his immigration story personally to President Obama and Vice President Biden during a visit to the Oval Office in May. Because he is from Cuba, a country with special immigration status, he easily became a U.S. citizen. His new wife is from Uruguay and doesn’t yet have legal papers. Miguel lives in fear that she will be deported and his young son will grow up with a single parent, as he did. “I work hard to keep my family united,” he said. “The threat that we can be separated over the status on a paper is devastating to me.”
- Lawrence Benito, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Lawrence is the Executive Director and CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
- Ana Maria Archila, Make the Road New York (MRNY)
Many members of MRNY are risking arrest today, including co-Executive Director Ana Maria Archila. MRNY builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education and survival services.
Additional FIRM groups whose members risked arrest included:
- Alliance for a Just Society
- Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
- Latin American Coalition
- Michigan United
- New York Immigration Coalition
- PCUN Oregon’s Farmworker Union (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste)
- Promise Arizona
The six-time Grammy winners and longtime reform advocates Los Tigres del Norte headlined the event.
Kica Matos, spokesperson for FIRM, introduced House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the energized crowd. Matos, on behalf of FIRM and the tens of thousands of immigrant rights supporters who gathered on the Mall had a clear message for Leader Pelosi and House Republican leaders: America deserves a vote on immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The time is now to pass a comprehensive bill and FIRM will continue to escalate its pressure on Congress until legislation is passed that provides a pathway for 11 million aspiring citizens.
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To schedule an interview with Kica Matos or one of the activists who risked arrest at today’s civil disobedience action, please contact Donna De La Cruz at 202-339-9331, 202-441-3798 (cell).