For Immediate Release: Monday, April 22, 2013
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‘My Family Reflects the Diversity and Beauty of America’
(WASHINGTON)—At today’s Senate Judiciary Committee on Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization, immigrant rights leader Gaby Pacheco gave moving testimony on her journey toward becoming an American citizen.
Pacheco, the Director of the Bridge Project, was the only witness testifying who is undocumented. Pacheco spoke of her family’s struggle with the current immigration system. Pacheco and her brother are DREAM students and her brother was recently granted Deferred Action status; her oldest sister can apply for citizenship later this year; her second oldest sister is too old to qualify for DREAM Deferred Action so her citizenship dreams remain in limbo; and her husband finally was granted Legal Permanent Residency after an 18-year wait. Her parents remain undocumented after living in the U.S. since 1993.
“My family reflects the diversity and beauty of America,” Pacheco said. “We are part of a strong working class; a mixed status family who are your neighbors, classmates, fellow parishioners, consumers and part of the fabric of this nation.”
Pacheco told the Committee that her family’s story mirrors that of millions of other immigrant families, and in 2010, she and a friend walked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington to bring attention to the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
“We witnessed firsthand how misinformation and fear-mongering confused people about immigrants,” Pacheco said. “Since the walk I have carried the stories and dreams of thousands of people we met along the way. People working in our fields, chicken farms, day laborer centers, homes as domestic workers, newspapers as journalists, small businesses as owners, and health clinics as doctors.”
“These people are mothers, fathers, children and neighbors. Their dreams are held in the hands of this committee and the rest of Congress,” Pacheco added. “It is time to set fear aside and deal with an issue that is affecting an entire nation, and doing nothing is no longer acceptable. Americans deserve a modernized immigration system. Individuals who are citizens in every way except on paper ask for a roadmap to citizenship.”
“With dignity and faith I surrender my talents, passion and life,” Pacheco said. “I ask you to give me, my family and 11 million of us an opportunity to fully integrate and achieve our American Dream.”
Stories like Pacheco’s are all too common. Last December, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) kicked off its “Keeping Families Together” campaign, a call to action for comprehensive, common sense immigration reform that keeps families together and upholds American values.
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) is a national coalition of grassroots organizations in 30 states fighting for immigrant rights at the local, state and federal level. For more information, go to www.fairimmigration.org