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Press Releases

Senate Democrats Join Immigrant Families in Press Conference Before Judiciary Committee Hearing in Support of Keeping Families Together

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Contact: Bernardita M. Yunis Varas, byunisvaras@communitychange.org, 202.339.9377
Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org 202.339.9331

Democrats and Immigrant Rights Movement Call on Republicans to Work towards a Comprehensive Immigration Reform

(WASHINGTON)—The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing this afternoon on the President’s recent executive action announcement and its impact on millions of immigrants. Families from across the country came together to be present at the hearing to show support for the Senate Democrats who are pushing to keep and implement President Obama’s immigration action. Present at the hearing were Democratic Senators Mazie Hirono (HI), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Al Franken (MN), Dick Durbin (IL), Christopher Coons (DE), and Richard Blumenthal (CT).

Earlier in the afternoon, Sen. Hirono and deferred action beneficiaries held a press conference that highlighted stories of families impacted by the President’s executive action. Senators and families, along with supporters, called on Republicans to work towards real and comprehensive immigration reform, and to stray away from anti-immigrant rhetoric that poisons the conversation.

Sen. Hirono opened the hearing saying, “This is about real people, real families. It is about who we are as a country.”

Sens. Blumenthal, Coons, Durbin, Franken, and Klobuchar spoke in support of the President’s action. Sen. Blumenthal stated, “We are a nation of immigrants and we are stronger when we remain a nation that welcomes immigrants.” In a heated discussion, Sen. Durbin argued, “the President’s immigration action is a reasonable response to the House’s inability to act.”

Astrid Silva, leading organizer with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), testified during the hearing:

“Thanks to President Obama, my family and I will be able to sleep better at night because we won’t have to live with the fear of a knock on our door from immigration. I know that fear first hand, because my father was detained by immigration enforcement officers before, and it was the most traumatic experience of my life. I was afraid for many years that immigration would one day separate my family”

“The latest efforts by President Obama will keep my family together. It will keep millions of families together. But I have many friends whose parents will not qualify. I have many friends who do not have children and therefore don’t qualify. These are people that like my family are only making our country a better place, they volunteer in our communities, go to our churches and are my classmates. This is why this action is only the beginning. We must continue to work with Congress to pass a permanent legislative fix to our country’s broken immigration system so all mothers and fathers can be with their children.”

“The bi-partisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform package that the Senate passed in 2013 was certainly not perfect, but it would have been a fair—and permanent—fix to this problem. I, and many of my peers will continue the fight to pass a bill.  But in the meantime, we will also fight to protect and defend the President’s action.  When people attack the President for this action, they are attacking me. They are attacking my mother. They are attacking the hundreds of thousands of children who need their parents to care and nurture their development. They are attacking workers who are contributing their blood and sweat to this economy and have only contributed to our country. You are attacking me with every anti-immigrant word you say…you are attacking everything that has made our country strong,” Silva added.

Leaders and families from around the country joined Silva in supporting Senate Democrats that are fighting for a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system. Over 30 families and other individuals affected by the President’s immigration action were present at the press conference and hearing.


House Republicans Pull Another Political Stunt on Immigration With Vote to Undo Administrative Relief

For Immediate Release: Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014
Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org 202.339.9331
Bernardita M. Yunis Varas, byunisvaras@communitychange.org 202.339.9377

GOP Continues to Treat Immigrant Families Inhumanely 

(WASHINGTON)—Today’s vote by House Republicans to undo President Obama’s progress on administrative relief was inhumane political theater. Behind their empty mask of rhetoric, the Republicans revealed how truly uncompassionate they are toward our nation’s immigrant families, said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), the nation’s largest coalition of immigrant rights groups.

Although the measure passed 219 to 197, it will not pass in the Senate, making the action merely the latest proof that the most conservative wing of the GOP continues to call the shots on immigration reform.

“The longer House Republicans let the vehemently anti-immigrant faction of their party be in charge, the sooner they will find themselves on the wrong side of American opinion on immigration reform,” Matos said. “The irony is that the party that prides itself on family values is bent on tearing millions of immigrant families apart.”

“FIRM calls on Republicans to show that they are not puppets of their anti-immigrant, anti-family colleagues and vote against the bill that would undo administrative relief,” Matos said. “Millions of immigrants have come out of the shadows to fight for their rights. It’s time for level-headed Republicans who support immigration reform to do the same. Don’t let a small group of lawmakers clearly on the wrong side of history govern your party.”

Matos pointed to new Gallup poll figures that show that President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration is overwhelmingly popular among Latino voters, a powerful voting bloc heading into 2016.


GOP Continues Turning Deaf Ear to Immigrant Families

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014
Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org 202.339.9331
Bernardita M. Yunis Varas, byunisvaras@communitychange.org 202.339.9377

GOP Continues Turning Deaf Ear to Immigrant Families 

(WASHINGTON)–The House Homeland Security Committee and House Judiciary Committee held hearings today designed only to amplify Republicans’ anti-immigrant rant over President Obama’s executive action granting temporary administrative relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, families came to Capitol Hill to thank the President for his actions and vowed to continue fighting until every immigrant family is able to stay united.

“Families who once lived in fear of being detained or deported are now going to be safe from the threat of being torn from their loved ones,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), the nation’s largest coalition of immigrant rights groups. “Our families will never stop coming to Capitol Hill to speak out on behalf of our communities, and will continue to call out any lawmaker who stands in the way of compassionate and humane legislation that allows families to remain together in their adopted country.”

More than 75 people from across the nation came to Capitol Hill today to make their presence known at the hearings, and to tell their stories of how administrative relief has affected them. Families from FIRM groups CASA de Maryland, the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), along with the Virginia Organizing Institute, were among those who attended the hearing today. Families briefly and peacefully interrupted the House Judiciary Committee hearing, with Maria Pena of the Virginia Organizing Institute standing to speak directly to Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who is her congressman.

“I live in your district, I am a small business owner and I have been in this country for a long time,” Maria said to Goodlatte. “My daughter was born here. Please do not separate us.”

In a news conference before the House Judiciary Committee hearing, several families and Democratic members of Congress vowed to keep fighting for all immigrant families.  NYIC member Jong-Min You of Brooklyn, New York, spoke of how he came to the U.S. from South Korea when he was just one year old. He attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a BA degree in Sociology. But due to his undocumented status, he was unable to pursue a career related to his studies and has worked in a flower store, a pizzeria and currently works in a grocery store.

“I now qualify for deferred action and work authorization,” Jong-Min said. “Now I can put my degree to use and work in the field of my choice. I am so happy to be given a chance to fulfill my dreams.”

Members of the Uribe family from Maryland told of their journey from Chile 17 years ago, when Peter came to the U.S. followed a few months later by his wife, Marlene, and their infant daughter, Nathaly. The Uribe’s daughter, Stephanie, was born in the U.S. and Nathaly was eligible for deferred action in 2012. Under administrative relief, the entire family can remain in the U.S.

“We are so grateful to President Obama for keeping families close to his heart,” Peter Uribe said. “Our children are no longer afraid their mom and dad will be taken from them.”

Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, testified before the House Judiciary Committee and spoke about Jong-Min as well as CHIRLA family Lupita, Marisol and Isabel Rojas. Last summer, Lupita had asked Hincapie to help her deliver a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. In the letter, Lupita asked Boehner to grant her a birthday wish and schedule a vote on immigration reform legislation that would allow her parents to earn citizenship. Lupita and her sister, Marisol, are U.S. citizens.

Under administrative relief, Isabel, Lupita and Marisol’s mother, will be allowed to remain in the U.S. with her children.

“Every daughter needs her mother and our nation’s laws should help support strong families rather than rip them apart,” Hincapie said.


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