by Dennis Chin, guest blogger
FIRM just released its Five Point Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Members of FIRM have been escalating their actions across the country with marches, rallies and acts of civil disobedience. Now we need leadership from the President and our Congressional leaders.
Check it out after the jump:
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) is the largest national grassroots network of immigrant rights organizations in the country. We began fighting for legalization of undocumented people and family unification in the late 1990’s, at a time when such proposals were not taken seriously by most in Washington and even by some activists. Over the last decade, we have helped to lead mobilizations that have brought millions to the streets, naturalized, registered and turned out millions of new voters, and won important victories at the local and state level. Over the past 18 months we have worked with allies to mount an unprecedented organizing and advocacy campaign to achieve federal reform legislation. This work has moved the question of immigration reform from the margins to the center of the national debate and the country’s politics.
Today, we are facing a moral crisis in our nation that has helped to inspire a social movement. The crisis has been brought about by the failure of Washington to act on legislation, resulting in a record level of over 1,000 families destroyed every day through deportations by the Obama Administration and in the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona. This current state of affairs is a moral catastrophe resulting in children separated from their parents, students who cannot pursue their dreams, and workers exploited at the job. We are at a pivotal point in our struggle for freedom and dignity for all immigrants in our country. And this struggle is not just about immigrants – it has become the pivotal debate that will define for a generation who we are and what we stand for as a country.
At this critical juncture, we wish to emphasize the following points:
- We demand that Congress and the President take leadership and enact immigration reform in 2010 that provides a path to citizenship for 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country and reunites families by clearing the backlogs of family petitions. The moral test of any immigration reform proposal was clearly articulated by the seven year old girl who courageously challenged the First Lady at an elementary school in Silver Spring, Maryland: will families be kept together or destroyed? It is as simple as that. There can be no resolution of this moral crisis without legalization for the 12 million and policies to reunite families. We will not give up on these demands because we cannot give up – not now, not ever. The yardstick for every member of Congress and for the President is whether they deliver relief to our families and communities or perpetuate an intolerable system that results in human suffering on a massive scale. Social movements throughout American history have had the courage to stand for real solutions – even and especially when the road is hard. We pledge to be steadfast in our commitments.
- We demand that the President Obama use his executive authority to immediately declare a moratorium on deportations. President Obama has repeatedly promised to focus enforcement on criminal immigrants who pose a threat to our country. He is either lying to the country, or he is being lied to by his lieutenants. The reality is that this Administration has set an all time record for deportations – surpassing even the records set by the Bush Administration. Every day, we hear stories of our government doing horrible things to good people. Every day, 1,100 people – men, women, and children – are deported and separated from their loved ones, and our country is the poorer for it. There are many ways that the Administration could implement a moratorium. President Obama has repeatedly said that he cannot pass immigration legislation without Republicans, and he is right about that. But make no mistake: President Obama can ease the suffering of our people right now with a stroke of his pen if he has the courage to lead.
- We support all efforts to move legislation that delivers relief to our people. We call on the House of Representatives to stop sitting on the sidelines waiting for the Senate to act. They should immediately begin consideration of the proposal developed by Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) that has nearly 100 co-sponsors. We call on Senate Republicans to stop their obstruction and join with Senate Democrats to move comprehensive immigration reform legislation immediately. We support Senate efforts to move targeted legalization for farm workers and students, but cannot support such legislation if it is paired with even more enforcement measures. Senators should know that passage of these measures will not lessen their obligation to pass legalization for all immigrants.
- We stand with the people of Arizona in their fight against SB 1070. We demand that the Administration terminate programs that encourage ICE and local law enforcement collaboration such as 287g and Secure Communities, and retract the infamous Ashcroft “inherent authority” memo, all of which have created the conditions in which abuse of immigrants can flourish – not just in Arizona, but all over the country. The Administration has the power to end these grievous human rights abuses that result in the destruction of families and communities, and it must act.
- We have marched, we have naturalized, we have voted, we have lobbied, we have advocated. Today, the gravity of the moral crisis in our country together with the failure of leadership in Washington compel us to undertake a campaign of direct action and non-violent civil disobedience to stop the destruction of our families. Throughout American history, when confronted with unjust laws and resistance to changing them by people in power, movements have taken history into their own hands. We are doing the same to address one of the great moral crises of our day. Our campaign of non-violent civil disobedience will lift up the reality of family separation caused by our broken immigration system. Already, hundreds of people –faith, community, labor and student and other leaders – have put their bodies on the line in cities across the country – from Chicago to Seattle to Arizona, from Los Angeles to New York, from Washington, D.C. to Miami. We will not stop until we achieve full citizenship for 12 million undocumented immigrants in our country.