For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 21, 2013
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We’ve Marched, We’ve Voted, We Want Immigration Reform Now
Immigrant Rights Coalition Demands Bill With Path to Citizenship
Easter Recess Actions on Congress Will Reinforce Message
(WASHINGTON)—A coalition of the largest immigrant rights organizations in 30 states today demanded swift action from Congress on a comprehensive immigration bill that includes a path to citizenship without unnecessary obstacles and keeps families together.
Members of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) will reinforce this message over the Easter recess by holding events today and tomorrow in 10 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, Washington state and Wisconsin). FIRM also will target turnout at more than 40 town halls and by holding other events, such as peaceful civil disobedience actions during the Easter recess.
“FIRM gave the Senate’s Gang of 8 until today to introduce an immigration reform bill that lays out a clear path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country,” said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos. “We set this deadline after the Gang of 8 missed its self-imposed deadline of early March to introduce a bill. It’s nearly April and there is no bill.”
Which is why FIRM will be doing Easter recess actions to remind members of Congress of the importance of introducing a bill now, said Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
“Every day that members of Congress are gone from Washington and immigration reform legislation is not introduced, 1100 people will be deported,” Salas said. “That’s nearly 20,000 families who will be separated over the holiday break. Easter is supposed to be a holiday about renewal and rebirth – it’s time for Congress to ensure these immigrant families have the same opportunity.”
Jennifer Martinez of Wisconsin, an American citizen, spoke of how the broken immigration system has separated her husband from her and their four young children.
“My husband was deported one year ago today,” Martinez said. “He was a hardworking member of our community and our family’s breadwinner. Now, I have to work two jobs to support our children who wonder every day if I will all of a sudden just disappear like their daddy did.”
“I really wish members of Congress could meet me and the millions of others who have been so horribly affected by our very flawed immigration laws,” Martinez said. “Congress must remember the families in their bill and make sure our families can become citizens without having to go through an obstacle course.”
Lawrence Benito, Chief Executive Officer for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), said when Congress returns to Washington after the Easter recess, they must hit the ground running with a good bill in hand.
“The Senate must quickly move the bill through committee and bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Congress needs to act, and the President must help push this bill through, and make it law,” Benito said. “Cynics are saying that we’ve been down this road before – we shouldn’t expect courage from politicians. But this time will be different. That’s because families who are impacted by our broken immigration system are speaking out with a loud, cohesive voice.”
On April 10th, thousands of families will come to Washington to rally for reform and tell their stories, said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland.
“These families will participate in one of the largest advocacy days in history,” Torres said. “They will fill the halls of Congress to speak directly with both their Senate and House delegations. Afterwards, tens of thousands will gather for a huge demonstration of solidarity.”
“Last November, both Democrats and Republicans learned that Latino, Asian, and other immigrant voters demand immigration reform that keeps families together and puts 11 million new Americans on a clear and direct road to citizenship,” Matos said. “Both parties now understand they have a vested and growing interest in getting immigration reform passed and signed into law as quickly, and with as little rancor and angry rhetoric as possible. Immigration reform is politically inevitable.”
“Every day there is no bill more families are torn apart,” Matos said. “A humane and compassionate immigration reform bill must be the law of this land so that the 11 million citizens-in-waiting can stop living in fear of being separated from their families.”