For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
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Immigrant Families Demand Immigration Reform, Reiterate March 21st Deadline for Senate to Introduce Legislation With Path To Citizenship
National storytelling bus tour culminates on Capitol Hill With Visits, Actions
(WASHINGTON)—Immigrant families who took part in the nearly 3-week, 19-state, 90-city national Keeping Families Together bus tour came to Capitol Hill today demanding legislation with a path to citizenship.
The more than 100 families from all areas of the country told their stories of dealing with the broken immigration system at a people’s hearing attended by these members of Congress: Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois; Mike Honda, D-California; Judy Chu, D-California; Juan Vargas, D-California; Steven Horsford, D-Nevada, and; Bill Foster, D-Illinois.
After the hearing the families visited the offices of several members of the Senate’s Gang of 8 to tell their stories. They also held actions at Sen. Marco Rubio’s office and another at the Republican National Committee demanding that GOP members introduce a bill with a path to citizenship.
“The stories these families have been telling are all heartbreaking and it is crucial that Congress listen to them to see the human element as they craft a comprehensive immigration bill,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), which sponsored the bus tour. FIRM is a coalition of leading immigrant rights organizations in 30 states. During the tour, more than 400 stories were collected.
Max Mehdi of New York told the story of how his family came to the U.S. from Pakistan because his sister desperately needed post-brain surgery treatment she could only get here.
“My sister got great care but the doctors told us we would have to stay her long term for the treatments so my family applied for visas but they were denied,” Mehdi said. “Our family now faces choices that involve separation. We want to live here in the country where we have made our home for the last 13 years, and stay together.”
Stories like Max’s are why FIRM reiterated a deadline of March 21 for the Senate to introduce a bill that includes a path to citizenship.
“We will support only legislation that includes a path to citizenship, nothing less,” Matos said. “Families should be allowed to stay together to work toward becoming full-fledged Americans.”
The Keeping Families Together stories are highlighted daily on the Keeping Families Together storytelling website and the FIRM Facebook page.
The tour traveled through seven regions: Southwest (California, Arizona, Nevada), Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana), Mountain West (Colorado), Great Lakes (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio), New England (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island), Mid Atlantic (New York) and the Southeast (Florida, North Carolina).
Families who could not travel with the bus were able to participate in a virtual bus tour by sharing their stories at www.keepingfamiliestogether.net or www.familiasunidasahora.net.
Some bus tour highlights:
**Great Lakes tour: The tour kicked off in Chicago on Feb. 25th. Participants marched through a snowstorm in Cincinnati.
**New England tour: Participants stormed through New England visiting Boston, Providence, New Haven doing citizenship workshops at every stop.
**New York tour: The melting pot of America brought forth many unique immigrant stories, including families dealing with immigration and LGBT issues.
**Southeast tour: In Florida, participants delivered petitions to Sen. Marco Rubio’s offices in Tampa and Orlando. In North Carolina, farmworkers joined the tour.
**Arizona tour: Grammy-winning artist Ricardo Arjona kicked off the Arizona tour at his concert in Phoenix.
**California tour: Civil rights leader Delores Huerta and astronaut Jose Hernandez participated in the tour.
**Northwest tour: Participants were greeted in small towns in Oregon, Idaho and Washington state by huge crowds.