Keeping Families Together Campaign
In late 2012, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement launched the “Keeping Families Together” campaign to call for comprehensive immigration reform. Family stories were foregrounded at FIRM actions, bus tours, campaign rallies, fasts, vigils and community dinners that continued for several years across the country. Today, our message of Keeping Families Together remains relevant as ever as the current administration and Congress escalates enforcement of unjust immigration laws and aggressively separates families.
"This campaign will give a voice to the 11 million undocumented people living in our country and together we will fight for comprehensive immigration reform. The men, women and children who have had their families torn apart by our nation’s broken immigration system will have an opportunity to speak out about the need for reform that includes a path to citizenship,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change at the launch of the campaign.
During the campaign, families were at the forefront of the movement, lifting the veil on the moral crisis of family separation and telling their stories of our broken immigration process to illustrate why we need change now. When families are torn apart, relationships are destroyed, inflicting psychological damage to all, including children. Communities are impacted, and immigrant families become further isolated and disengaged from civic life. And family separation can take away a breadwinner, leading to severe economic hardship.
Petra Falcon, Executive Director of Promise Arizona, echoed the importance of family stories in this debate. “Family is the first and most important foundation that connects us to the story of America itself. It’s a value that everyone in this country shares. It crosses religions, political divides, over boundaries of income, culture and race; family is the one thing that can unify us to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
The Keeping Families Together campaign tour stopped in cities across the country, including New York, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., among others. Family stories that were told at campaign rallies, vigils and community dinners were recorded and shared with policymakers.
When the White House invited a small group of young immigrants to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden, CCC and FIRM were able to quickly identify the most effective storytellers to tell their personal stories.
In November 2014, President Obama enacted administrative reforms to allow immigrant families to stay together. When the president made this announcement, he used the story of Astrid Silva, a young immigrant and FIRM member, to describe the profound impact these reforms will have on families like hers. Astrid later testified at a Senate hearing entitled “Keeping Families Together: The President’s Executive Action on Immigration and the Need to Pass Comprehensive Reform,” a clear sign that the campaign’s messaging had broken through.