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immigration rally

Game on: Why yesterday was important in the fight for reform

I am exhausted today. Yesterday was a whirlwind of marching, lobbying, writing, tweeting, picture taking, interviewing, chanting and more marching. But it was more than worth it.

I was standing side-by-side with more than 8,000 people (according to National Mall staff) as we marched to the front door of Congress to demand comprehensive immigration reform. Before the event, over 900 of those people talked directly to their members of Congress about supporting immigration reform and specific pieces of legislation such as the DREAM Act and AgJobs.

This number doesn’t even cover the more than 20,000 calls and faxes into Congress that were made by people across the country, as a part of yesterday’s action for reform. We showed power yesterday, both in DC and across the country.

The day culminated in Representative Luis Gutierrez, champion of immigration reform, introducing core principles for a progressive immigration reform bill, which he has promised to formally introduce later this year. Rep. Gutierrez said:

We simply cannot wait any longer for a bill that keeps our families together, protects our workers and allows a pathway to legalization for those who have earned it. It is time we had a workable plan making its way through Congress that recognizes the vast contributions of immigrants to this country and that honors the American Dream.

The event has garnered much media attention, though it was drowned out yesterday by the continuing health care debate.

Says Marisa Trevino of Latina Lista:

If you didn’t hear about the rally, it’s not surprising. It didn’t take place until late afternoon – after the passage of the health reform bill but news outlets are slowly getting around to writing about it.

And they should be because this wasn’t the usual caravan-to-Washingon-and-demand-immigration reform rally. This rally was different in that it served as the platform where Illinois Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, attempted to jumpstart the immigration debate by unveiling the “core principles” he wants seen included in any immigration reform bill.

She’s right: this wasn’t a typical march to the Capitol to call for immigration reform. There was substance and passion and true momentum behind yesterday’s event.

There are two big things that I am taking away from yesterday:

Number one, the fight for immigration reform has officially started.

Number two, we haven’t even begun to tap the potential support for a pro-migrant progressive bill. The fact that thousands of out-of-town people turned out in person, drove hundreds of miles, fund raised and even missed work to be at a pro-immigrant event where the main draw was only principles of a potential bill, sends a very clear message: we are ready for this fight.

That is not to say this won’t get ugly. I never underestimate the nativist lobby’s ability to stoop lower and lower in their demonization of immigrants and of our movement. But, the true power and the true majority is with us.

For a more about yesterday and full slideshow of photos, visit the Reform Immigration FOR America Blog.

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A New Day for Immigration: Coverage Roundup

Below is the media coverage of the New Day for Immigration Action in Washington, DC on January 21st. I will continueto update this as more hits roll in. Looks like we got some great attention for our efforts! Thanks to everyone who turnedout to the DC event or one of the local events! Also, as a treat, here is a video done by America’s Voice that showcasesthe GIANT American flag that was carried during the march.

Immigrant Advocates Call for End to Raids (Washington Post)

Immigration protest at S.F. Ballet gala (San Francisco Chronicle)

Press Release of the Day (National Review)

DC March for Immigration Reform: the Day After the Inauguration (The Huffington Post)

Immigrant Activists March on ICE on Day After Inauguration (New America Media)

Immigrants March for Reform in DC (Race Wire)

Immigrant advocates waste no time (San Antonio Express-News)

Obama to stop ousting illegals? (WorldNetDaily)

Hundreds March Around Country March for Immigration Reform (Immigration Impact)

Today They Celebrate, Tomorrow They March For Immigration Reform (Feet In 2 Worlds)

A New Day for America, But Not for Immigrants? (MyDD)

Immigration Activists Demonstrate For End To Illegal Alien Raids (EFE)

Brand Immigrant Is in Serious Trouble (Advertising Age)

Calls for immigration reform under Obama (Associated Press)

Inmigrantes pidieron reforma a Obama (Univision video)

Activistas y líderes religiosos participan en “limpia” y exigen fin a redadas (EFE)

Confían en reforma migratoria en la “nueva era” de Obama (Notimex)

Piden a Obama “un nuevo día para las y los inmigrantes” (Cimac Noticias)

Revive el movimiento pro inmigrante (La Opinión)

Más allá de la Reforma Migratoria (La Opinión)

Obama’s Immigration Challenge: More about Words than Policy (America’s Program)

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A New Day for Immigration in America

Across the country, and here in Washington DC, community members, faith leaders, immigrants and advocates gathered to celebrate a New Day for Immigration in America, and to lay to rest 8 years of enforcement-only immigration policy at the hands of the Bush administration.

www.ANewDayforImmigration.org

In Los Angeles, COFEM organized a rally to call for an end to the raids and renew their committment to Just and Humane Immigration Reform in the new Obama administration. Over 40 grass root leaders from both COFEM and CHIRLA, gathered at 6:00 am for a blessing from a local Methodist pastor, and then a procession to ICE’s facilities in Los Angeles. They stayed for an hour, chanting “Stop the Raids” and holding minutes of silence for those affected by the broken immigration system.

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In Atlanta, a diverse crowd of 40 ABLE members and supporters of immigration reform gathered in front of the ICE headquarters building in downtown. They prayed and sang together before trying to enter the building to deliver a letter to ICE officials. ABLE leaders were met by several security officers as they crowded the gated entryway leading to the building. Security officers physically held the group off the property and demanded that all recording equipment be turned off.  After many tense moments a non-ICE official from the building met with the group and eventually escorted one member into the building to deliver the letters to an ICE official. The vigil was a spiritual experience as well as a show of opposition to current piecemeal and inhumane immigration practices. ABLE felt God’s presence as they prayed for Comprehensive Immigration Reform instead of haphazard local enforcement, and they used media coverage of the event to convey their message to the greater community.

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Galeo’s Executive Director, Jerry Gonzalez said:

Today, on the first day of the new Obama Administration, we stood with Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE) in support of a renewed national effort to support humane, just, rational and comprehensive immigration policy that reflects the values we have as Americans. We join in the celebration of a New Day in America and join in A New Hope for Immigration Reform! We are living in a historic moment of change. President Barack Obama and his election have given the country renewed hope for just and humane immigration reform and worker justice.

jan-21saIn San Antonio, advocates gathered at ICE offices, calling for an end to raids and the closing of the Don T. Hutto family detention center (infamous for being a prison where small children and immigrant families are held).

“Just like he promised to close Guantánamo Bay, we want him to close down Hutto with detained little children,” said Luissana Santibáñez with the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, referring to the ICE family detention center northeast of Austin.

Today, in an encouraging move, Obama signed an executive order to shut down Guantanamo Bay. It seems that the demand for a similar order for a halt to the raids could be a reality.

I will be rounding up pictures and stories from all of the events throughout the day, so be sure to check back for more!

 

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