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Jose Antonio Vargas Gives Voice to Families in Immigration Reform Testimony

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013

Contact:

English-language media: Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org (202) 339-9331

Spanish-language media: Ricardo Ramirez, rramirez@communitychange.org (202) 905-1738

Jose Antonio Vargas Gives Voice to Families in Immigration Reform Testimony

Senate Must Take Action Now on a Bill With a Path to Citizenship 

(WASHINGTON)—Jose Antonio Vargas today provided a powerful voice to undocumented immigrant families in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she has never seen a better opportunity to pass a comprehensive immigration bill until now.

The Senate must seize this opportunity and take action on a bill with a path to citizenship. And they must remember Vargas’s testimony and the words of other undocumented immigrants, said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a coalition of immigrant rights groups in 30 states.

Vargas asked the Senate Judiciary Committee members “What do you want to do with us?” before recounting how he was brought to America from the Philippines by his grandfather an American citizen. Vargas is the only member of his extended family who is undocumented.

“The Senate must not let political infighting and one-upmanship derail bipartisan legislation that is humane and compassionate and will allow the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country work to become full-fledged Americans,” said Matos, also the Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice for the Center for Community Change. The Center is a FIRM member.

“The House must also remember families as they craft legislation that must include a path to citizenship,” Matos added. “We will not support any legislation that does not provide undocumented immigrants a way to become full-fledged Americans.”

 

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VIDEO: How We Will Make Real Immigration Reform a Reality!

On Wednesday night, 60,000 people joined what was an incredible call to action on overhauling our nation’s broken immigration laws.

Today, we’re releasing a new video that features Congressman Luis Gutierrez unveiling his principles for reform in October, and which calls on all of us to help build the movement for real immigration reform:

We all know our immigration system needs fixing.

Immigration has been used as a wedge to obstruct progress on everything from the Stimulus to health care reformeven the 2010 Census. There are many skeptics out there who believe Congress doesn’t have what it takes to pass reform in 2010 – or that even if they have what it takes, they don’t have the nerve to do it.

But just last week, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reinforced the administration’s commitment to reform, laying out the details for why this push is different, and why we need to get it done.

What’s more, the national movement for real immigration reform is growing—and we are only getting bigger.

On Wednesday night, there were over 1,000 house parties in 45 states, with supporters gathered together anxiously to hear what they could do to help make reform a reality. All across the country, people are primed and ready to do whatever it takes to win this battle, and if you are not one of those people, now is the time to join the fight.

Watch our new video, sign up for the text message network, and help spread the word today.

In 2007, opponents of immigration reform took credit for stopping legislation in its tracks, overwhelming Congressional offices with a flood of angry phone calls and faxes. They took control of the debate and scared the pants off of vulnerable members of Congress.

This time around will be different, but it will take all of us to make real immigration reform a reality.

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Napolitano: Hopeful for immigration reform in 2010

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This morning Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (or as I lovingly call her – J Nap) spoke about immigration reform at the Center for American Progress. While I wasn’t able to attend, I followed along via Twitter thanks to America’s Voice and Voto Latino.

Though much of Sec. Napolitano’s perspective emphasized enforcement – no shock there – she also stated that she is hopeful about immigration reform in early 201o. This is welcome news amidst a lot of speculation and pessimism as to whether reform will even come up for debate early next year. Sec. Napolitano noted that much has changed this time around in the debate. Perhaps the most notable is the new allies joining in the fight for reform.

Here’s the other thing that has shifted in this debate: a larger segment of the American public has embraced the need to engage this debate and arrive at a sensible solution to this problem.

There are leaders of the law enforcement community speaking out, saying that immigration reform is vital to their ability to do their jobs keeping Americans safe. Faith leaders, including the National Association of Evangelicals, have announced their support for immigration reform as a moral and practical issue. We are seeing more business leaders and more labor leaders engaged in this debate in a constructive way than we have ever seen before.

These constituencies have all arrived at the same conclusion that prevails among the American people: this is a problem that needs to be fixed—and the best way to ensure that we can uphold our laws is to make sure our laws are rational and enforceable.

This is a huge point of strength that shows hope for immigration reform efforts in 2010. We have new communities and constituencies on our side and they aren’t just the same old familiar faces. The anti’s who have been screaming for years about law and order now have to answer to law enforcement officials who are chiming in to say that they can’t enforce the laws on the books because those laws are outdated. Business leaders and the Labor community, who before have had a tenuos relationship with immigration reform efforts are fully on board this time around, with a plan for how this reform will boost both the economy and the rights of workers across the board.

In short, its a different landscape for immigration reform in 2010. There is the support for this legislation, but we must keep pressure on Congress to act.

Sec. Napolitano reaffirmed President Obama’s committment to the issue, saying:

The President is committed to this issue because the need for immigration reform is so clear. This Administration does not shy away from taking on the big challenges of the 21st century, challenges that have been ignored too long and hurt our families and businesses. When Congress is ready to act, we will be ready to support them.

With Representative Luis Gutierrez hosting a National town hall on immigration reform next week – and thousands of people participating across the country – its clear that there are champions in Congress who are ready to move on this issue.

So, Chuck Schumer, where you at? Who wants to start sending him calendars  as per suggestions last week? You promised us a bill and we’re ready to see it.

H/T to Erin Rosa at the CampusProgress Blog and Jackie Mahendra at America’s Voice.

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