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Press Releases

Fair Immigration Reform Movement Statement

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 21, 2014
Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org 202.339.9331
Bernardita M. Yunis Varas, byunisvaras@communitychange.org 202.339.9377

Fair Immigration Reform Movement Statement:
Joy For Families, Challenge to Republicans, Reflection On How the Movement Got to This Historic Moment

(WASHINGTON)—Fair Immigration Reform Movement leaders provide reactions to President Obama’s administrative relief plan, from joy for families who can now stay together, a challenge to Republicans to act, and how the immigrant rights movement got to this historic moment. Here are remarks from: Astrid Silva, who introduced the President before he made his remarks in Las Vegas today; FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos; and Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change. 

Astrid Silva, Immigration Organizer for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN). PLAN is a member of FIRM. President Obama spoke of Astrid when he announced his plan for administrative relief on Thursday: “When the president told my story, I looked at my dad, and then over to my mom, and I started crying with relief. President Obama’s bold action means that millions of families like mine will no longer live with the perpetual anxiety that they may not be together to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and holidays. The president’s administrative reforms are only a temporary fix and we desperately need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation that will grant permanent security to the millions of immigrant families who love this country and want to become citizens.

But for now, we celebrate this historic victory. Thank you, Mr. President, for sharing my story. I hope it will help people realize that immigrant families are just like theirs – striving to make better lives for themselves, their parents and their children.”

Kica Matos, FIRM spokesperson on Speaker John Boehner’s remarks today that the House would act to counter the President’s action: “We dare you to try to repeal this historic reform. We welcome a national debate about keeping families together. Show us whether you are going to stand with families or in the dust bin of history.”

Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change, a FIRM member, on how the immigrant rights movement got to this historic moment: “In the history of every social movement there are seminal moments that portend an eventual victory. If we can beat the intense backlash the President’s announcement is sure to unleash, this unquestionably will be written about in the history books as just such a moment for the immigrant rights movement. The administrative reforms to our broken immigration system just announced by President Obama are a hard-won victory for the hundreds of community organizations, thousands of activists and millions of people who have pressed for change through marches, phones calls, protests, civil disobedience, and electoral engagement for over 15 years. There is a “call and response” relationship between movements and elected leaders. The President has heard the call, and made history. The victory is partial and the long fight for true integration and full citizenship is far from over, but the movement has clearly created a paradigm-shifting turning point.”


Joyous Families Celebrate Historic Breakthrough on Immigration

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 20, 2014
Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org 202.339.9331
Bernardita M. Yunis Varas, byunisvaras@communitychange.org 202.339.9377

Joyous Families Celebrate Historic Breakthrough on Immigration
Years of Courage and Persistence Pay Off in Huge Step Forward on Immigration

(WASHINGTON)—Today, millions of immigrant families are celebrating the historic breakthrough on immigration that provides them with the opportunity to remain in the U.S. and continue to contribute to America. The new deferred action program for parents, crucial updates to the existing DACA program for DREAMers and a series of other administrative and enforcement reforms to update our outdated immigration system will provide major relief to immigrant families.

“President Obama did not win or lose and the GOP did not win or lose today,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). “This is a major victory for the immigrant rights movement in America. This victory belongs to the millions of immigrants who stood up and were unafraid.”

“This victory was more than a decade in the making and it shows that America does give way to the voices of real people,” Matos added. “Women won the right to vote, the labor movement built the middle class, people standing up for civil rights ended Jim Crow, LGBT people are ending marriage discrimination as we speak. And today, the immigrant rights movement led by families took a huge step in the fight for immigration reform and toward citizenship.”

“The President’s decision will transform the lives of millions of people who came to this country in search of a better life. This year, families will sit down at the Thanksgiving table with less fear that a broken immigration system will tear them apart.”

Matos noted the administrative reforms announced by President Obama will not cover all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

“The struggle is not over until everyone has freedom from fear of detention, deportation and family separation,” Matos said. “We will not stop fighting until everyone has a path to citizenship.”

She also noted that the enforcement reforms announced by the Administration could offer protection to many of the people not covered by deferred action – if they are actually implemented properly by DHS.

“We are committed to keep fighting to ensure that DHS reins in ICE and CBP, agencies that routinely ignore their own stated enforcement priorities,” Matos said.

She also noted that the action announced today is temporary and that we need comprehensive immigration reform as a permanent fix.

“To those who would try to take this victory away and tell immigrant families ‘you are not welcome,’ we say you are on the wrong side of history,” Matos said. “Like all those who have stood against the arc of justice, you will be judged harshly. We will not forget. The immigrant rights movement is committed to full scale mobilization, not only to protect this historic step, but to parlay it into full inclusion and citizenship for all families.”

“This victory belongs to immigrants who stood up and said ‘I am a part of America and I am not afraid,’” Matos said.


Republicans and Immigrant Families: Oil and Water

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 14, 2014
Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org 202.339.9331
Bernardita M. Yunis Varas, byunisvaras@communitychange.org 202.339.9377

GOP Would Rather Shutdown Government Than Keep Families Together
GOP Does Not Understand Immigration Reform is About Families Not Politics 

(WASHINGTON)—In a monumental display of who they are as a party and their true colors on immigration reform, Republicans are threatening another government shutdown right before the Christmas holiday if President Obama uses executive action to keep millions of immigrant families together.

“As word has seeped out that the President will provide administrative relief to immigrant families, Republicans driven into a frenzy by their anti-immigrant, xenophobic base have set their eyes on blocking an historic compassionate and humane act that would keep families together in this country while they work toward becoming full-fledged citizens,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), the nation’s largest immigrant rights coalition. “No doubt this will further alienate millions of Americans who believe immigrants are human beings who live in our communities struggling as we all do to make better lives for our families. The sanctity of families should always be the central focus of the immigration debate, yet Republicans continue to turn a blind eye to helping millions of people who already have shown how much they want to stay and thrive in their adopted country.”

“Where are the stories of families like Antonio and Ruth Aleman of Maryland who have been living in the U.S. for 11 years, working hard to provide for their two children?” Matos said. “The couple’s children have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but they remain in constant fear their parents could be deported any day.”

“And there’s Armando Ibanez, an aspiring film director and restaurant worker in California, who was not eligible for DACA because he was older than 16 when he came to the U.S.,” Matos added. “But his two younger siblings were eligible for DACA, so Ibanez and his mother remain undocumented.”

“Republicans have never once talked about the tragedy of families being torn apart, or living with the perpetual fear of deportation,” Matos said. “They have always preached their belief in family values but they have conveniently left that out in the immigration debate.”

“The Republican Party continues on its steady march toward self-destruction as it chooses to listen only to its most conservative faction while ignoring signs that while they may be in control of Congress in 2014, Latinos and immigrants will remember who stood in the way of immigration reform in 2016,” Matos said.


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