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Immigrant Families Launch Bus Tour to Tell Stories of Broken System

Immigrant Families Launch Bus Tour to Tell Stories of Broken System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, February 25, 2013 Contact: For English-Speaking Media: Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org, 202-339-9331, 202-441-3798 (cell)

For Spanish-Speaking Media: Ricardo Ramirez, rramirez@communitychange.org (202) 905-1738

More than 500 families will visit 19 states and 100 congressional districts to call for a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring citizens

CHICAGO – Families torn apart by the immigration system and immigrant rights activists gathered in Chicago today to launch the Keeping Families Together Story Tour. The tour will elevate the voices of families that have been splintered because of our patchwork of failed immigration policies.

Over the next three weeks, more than 500 family members will join the tour and travel more than 20,000 miles to demand immigration reform. The

Keeping Families Together Story Tour was launched by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a coalition of the largest grassroots immigrant rights organizations. FIRM has issued a March 21st deadline to the Senate to introduce a comprehensive immigration bill that contains a path to citizenship.

“For the 25 days from February 25th to the March 21st deadline, Senators will hear stories of separated spouses doing their best to raise their families, children left in foster care because their parents were deported, families who don’t know when they will be reunited again,” said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos. “Senators need to hear the voices of people, not just politicians, when they are crafting this extremely important bill.”

The stories will be highlighted daily, starting February 25th, on the Keeping Families Together storytelling website and the FIRM Facebook page.

As the buses wind through every region of the country, families will tell their stories that illustrate the urgent need for reform. In Chicago, Jennifer Martinez, a young mother from Manitowoc, WI, talked about her husband’s deportation to Mexico last year.  Martinez is now working two jobs to support her four young children.

“It breaks my heart to see my kids pray every night for their father to come home,” said Martinez. “I hope that President Obama is successful in his goal of providing a path to citizenship – but I also have learned that it’s hard to have faith in the same people and policies that broke my family. This tour is an opportunity to share our stories with both elected officials and our own community.”

Artists and poets will join the tour as well, including astronaut Jose Hernandez and singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona.

The tour will travel through seven regions: Southwest (California, Arizona, Nevada), Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana), Mountain West (Colorado), Great Lakes (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio), New England (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island), Mid Atlantic (New York) and the Southeast (Florida, North Carolina).

Families who cannot travel with the bus can participate in a virtual bus tour by sharing their stories at www.keepingfamiliestogether.net or www.familiasunidasahora.net.

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Keeping Families Together in our Fight for Immigration Reform

This year has been a huge one for DREAMers who earlier this year were granted deferred action status. But the fight for DREAMers is not over. Although they now have the ability to stay in the U.S. without fear, their parents and other family members do not live with same sense of security.   Keeping families together is why immigration reform leaders are meeting in D.C.

Immigrant families have contributed to our economy and are an integral piece in the framework of our American society. A coalition of grassroots organizations and The Campaign for Community Change are organizing to launch the, Keeping Families Together campaign tour. The tour will stop in New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., among others. Family stories will be told at campaign rallies, vigils, community dinners, and will be recorded and shared with policymakers.

Our families want citizenship, which is a real solution that upholds our nation’s values, and moves us forward together.  Our current immigration system is badly broken. What people don’t understand is that there is literally no way for some undocumented immigrants to become legal, including people who were here as young children. And unscrupulous employers can prey on workers and pay low wages. A path to citizenship will give immigrants an opportunity to become legal, pay taxes, and participate fully in American society.

So DREAMers and their families will continue to work toward comprehensive immigration reform, and the Keeping Families Together summit will help us achieve it.

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CIR ASAP – Who wants to make some history?

I’ve fallen off the blogmap in the past week or so. Between the introduction of CIR ASAP by Representative Luis Gutierrez and preparations for 2010 actions, I’ve been struggling to find time to write. However, there has been so much to write I feel like it will take a while to catch up. But I’m going to try.

First, and foremost, there was the introduction of the CIR ASAP act by Representative Luis Gutierrez. I wrote a round-up of coverage at the RI4A blog that I think captures the excitement and importance of this moment in the fight for immigration reform.

Like Rep. Gutierrez said, there is no longer an excuse for inaction from this Congress and especially from the administration. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama have continued to reaffirm their support for CIR, but we need to see more firm leadership on this issue and now is the time to step up. All reports indicate that a Senate bill from Senator Chuck Schumer is in the works for early 2010. Now, more than ever, we need each and every voice to join in the fight.

While CIR ASAP is not perfect (the exclusion of LGBT families being a key point of contention) it is by far the best version of an immigration reform bill that we are going to see. It is absolutely essential that we show widespread support for the bill, in order to frame the debate as we head into 2010. You can send a fax in support by clicking here.

As Frank Sharry of America’s Voice noted, this is just the beginning of the fight.

“[CIR ASAP] is the first step in what I anticipate will be a six month, all-out-fight to pass real, comprehensive reform that restores justice to our broken immigration system.  When it is signed into law, this legislation will be one of the largest leaps forward for civil rights that our nation has seen in over 30 years.”

Last week, Representative Gutierrez signaled that its game on for immigration reform. We have the opportunity to fight for (and win) legislation that will improve the lives of millions of Americans and will be a giant victory for the rights of all people. Who’s ready to make history in 2010?

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