Author Archives: Dennis Chin

Stepping Up Against Racial Profiling in AZ

On ABC’s show, What Would You Do?, John Quinones goes undercover to see how people react to a security guard asking Spanish-speaking folks if they have papers at a restaurant.  The program shows everyday people in AZ stepping up against the security guard and speaking out against racial profiling.

Everyday Americans step up against racial profiling in AZ and stand in solidarity with immigrants living in their communities.  As laws continue to criminalize immigrants, everyday people are building communities of resilience to counteract state-sanctioned profiling.  Check out the work of Promise Arizona to see how organizers are leveraging these communities to create long-lasting change.

DREAM Act fails to move forward. What now?

Words from Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change.

On Saturday, December 18th, the U.S. Senate failed to get the 60 votes necessary to move forward on the DREAM Act, a piece of immigration legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented youth in this country. Where do we go from here?

Saturday’s vote may have been a legislative setback but it was not a defeat for our movement.  We won a majority of votes in both the House and the Senate.  But because of a Republican filibuster we needed 60 votes to pass DREAM and we fell short.

We thank those who did the right thing and voted for DREAM.  But for the majority of Republicans and the handful of Democrats who voted against the best and the brightest of the Latino, Asian and immigrant communities, we know who you are, and we will never forget.  Today you told young people who grew up in America, who did nothing wrong and everything right, that their talents and contributions are neither welcome nor respected.

As disappointed as we are in those who slammed the door of opportunity on talented young people who are Americans in all but paperwork, we are buoyed by the nationwide outpouring of support for this cause, the unprecedented mobilization in support of DREAM, and the support from allies from the faith, labor, education, civil rights, military, law enforcement, local elected officials, and business communities.

This mobilization was and is led by the tens of thousands of DREAMers, the brave women and men who organized in their local communities to insist on making their DREAM come true, and by the hundreds who came to Washington DC over the past few months to serve notice that they are going to keep fighting and keep getting stronger until justice is done.  In addition, our campaign generated millions of calls and faxes and thousands of local events in every state.  This builds on the unprecedented mobilization of immigrant voters in the 2010 election, which resulted in anti-immigrant candidates being defeated and the Democrats maintaining control of the Senate.  All of which builds on years of fighting, organizing, mobilizing and educating which is building for our movement political power and policy influence as never before.

Where do we go from here?

Continue reading

Have you called your Representative yet?

The House of Representatives is set to vote on the DREAM Act tomorrow. Have you called your Representative?

Dial (866) 967-6018

People like Soo Ji Lim are in favor of passing the DREAM Act. Though she will not likely meet the age requirement of the DREAM Act, her younger brother would be eligible. Soo Ji has overcome numerous difficulties in her life, including the loss of both her parents to terminal illnesses, in order to make ends meet and go to college.  Listen to her story here:

Video by NAKASEC

Tomorrow: Vigils for the DREAM Act

With a vote on the DREAM Act expected to come as early as Wednesday, grassroots groups throughout the country are organizing vigils Tuesday night to show their support and solidarity with DREAMers everywhere. Candlelight vigils are being planned in California, Washington, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa and other states.

In a national press statement, FIRM’s national coordinator Marissa Graciosa said:

“The grassroots immigration movement will do everything possible to show in no uncertain terms the benefits, popularity and moral urgency of the DREAM Act.  Already we have helped direct tens of thousands of calls to congressional offices, and will continue to make calls. Tuesday night we will bring people together to congregate with others who are similarly anxious, hopeful and excited about the upcoming vote. We’ve waited for this day for a long time.”

The DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill that would enable undocumented young people who came to the country as children to enlist in the U.S. military or attend college on their way to becoming citizens. The vigils are meant to show the power to call for a successful vote, thank those who are leading on DREAM, and ask those uncommitted to put aside politics, and do what is right for youth and our economy when they vote.

Some of the vigils being planned for Tuesday, December 7, 2010 include (all times are local):

  • Chapel Hill, N.C.: Peace and Justice Plaza, 6 p.m. (various organizations)
  • Seattle: 5 p.m., Broadway & Pine St. corner at SCCC (OneAmerica)
  • Chicago: 12 p.m., Federal Plaza (Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights)
  • New York: 6 p.m., St. Teresa’s Church, 141 Henry Street (New York Immigration Coalition) Contact: Christina Baal,
  • Phoenix: 6:30 p.m., State Capitol Lawn, 1700 W. Washington (Promise Arizona) Contact: Raquel Teran,, (602) 326-5854
  • Los Angeles: 5 p.m., L.A. Federal Building, 300 North Los Angeles St. (CHIRLA/NAKASEC) Contact: Jorge-Mario Cabrera,, (213) 255-5043 or Olivia Park (213) 605-1255
  • Wichita, Kan.: 4 p.m., North Senior High School, 1437 N. Rochester (Sunflower Community Action/NPA)
  • Marshalltown, Iowa: 6 p.m., St. Mary’s Church, 9 W Linn St. (Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
  • Charlotte, N.C.: 5 p.m. Senator Kay Hagan’s office, 1520 South Boulevard, Suite 205 (Latin American Coalition

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

  • Portland, Ore.: 5 p.m., Pioneer Square, 701 SW Sixth Avenue (various organizations)

For a full list of events, please visit the Reform Immigration FOR America Facebook page.

DREAM Act vote postponed until next week

But continue to call your elected officials and tell them to vote YES on the DREAM Act.

The House line is (866) 967-6018.

The Senate line is (866) 996-5161.

Let’s continue to flood the phone lines!

Immigrant Grassroots Groups in Historic Push for Dream Act

As a vote on the DREAM Act looms closer, grassroots groups who make up the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) are stepping up efforts to show their Congressional Representatives that their communities urgently want the DREAM Act to pass. From California to Maine, immigration activists are flooding congressional offices with calls, faxes and emails, holding press conferences, staging caravans and rallies, and writing letters to the editor.

If you haven’t already, dial 866-967-6018 and we will connect you with your Representative. Tell them to vote YES on the DREAM Act.

FIRM, for those of you who don’t know, is a coalition comprised of more than 200 of the country’s largest and most active state and local immigration advocacy groups representing nearly every state. FIRM’s organizations are all actively courting the support of their Congressional Representatives and communities with varied and creative actions. In Wisconsin, activists with Voces de la Frontera were arrested during a vigil at Rep. Paul Ryan’s Racine office. In California, activists with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) are caravanning through the state asking for commitments of support from the state’s representatives. In Illinois, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is gathering signatures of support from presidents of universities.

Upcoming actions include:

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)

  • Friday, December 3: DREAMers stage mock graduation at Sen. Scott Brown’s Christmas party (5:45 p.m. EST, meeting at Arlington St. and Boylston St. to walk to the Park Plaza Hotel)

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)

  • Friday, December 3: Rallies in front of the offices of Rep. Mary Bono-Mack at 9 a.m. (Palm Springs) and Rep. Jerry Lewis at 12 p.m. (Redlands)

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)

  • Thursday, December 2: DREAM Act Night in Little Village to help undocumented students with college applications and to drive calls
  • Saturday, December 4: DREAM Act College Forum, Cicero Public Library, at 12 p.m.

New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)

  • Thursday, December 2: Kicking off a phone blitz to generate thousands of new calls to Congress, specifically from New York’s Asian American community

Connect with these groups today and join them at these events.

And don’t forget to dial 866-967-6018 and tell your Representative to vote YES on the DREAM Act

[image:  RI4A Flickr]

DREAM Act vote scheduled for tomorrow

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented youth.

Dial 866-967-6018 and we will connect you with your Representative. Tell them to vote YES on the DREAM Act.

Listen to stories of undocumented youth from the We Are America stories project:

The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for youth like Michael who arrived in the United States with his parents at a young age.  Without the DREAM Act, millions of youth like Michael will not be able to meaningfully contribute to our nation.

The DREAM Act enjoys strong support across party lines. In fact, 66% of voters support the DREAM Act. And according to a 2010 study by the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center, the total earnings of DREAM Act beneficiaries over the course of their working lives would be between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion, all taxable income to support America’s sagging economy. The bottom line is that our nation benefits from retaining the skills and talent of these youth and the majority of Americans understand this.  It just makes sense.

Dial 866-967-6018 and we will connect you with your Representative. Tell them to vote YES on the DREAM Act.


Colbert testifies on the Hill for immigration reform

Comedian Stephen Colbert, star and host of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law today to talk about the United Farm Workers‘ “Take Our Jobs” campaign.

This testimonial is filled with gems! You can sense that those sitting on the Subcommittee are desperately trying to hold in their laughter. I see you Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)!

One of the highlights from Colbert’s testimony is the part in which he connects the role of “free markets” to the conditions that necessitate migrant labor in the first place. Then he advocates for the improved legal status for immigrants arguing that improved legal status “might allow immigrants recourse if they’re abused.” He goes on to argue:

“And it just stands to reason to me, that if your co-worker cant be exploited,then you’re less likely to be exploited yourself and that itself, might improve pay and working conditions on these farms and eventually Americans may consider taking these jobs again. Or maybe that’s crazy.”

Not crazy, Stephen.  Not crazy.

This is actually something that immigrant organizers, leaders and activists have advocated for years. We call this idea raising the floor for all workers. And it makes sense. Check out this report here by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center.

It’s worth mentioning that Colbert shared the stage with Arturo Rodriguez, President of the United Farm Workers (UFW). UFW is one of the nation’s most well-known labor unions. The most well-known names associated with UFW are Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta – two giants who have contributed greatly to the tradition of community organizing, particularly union organizing, in our nation.

Also worth mentioning is the pivotal role of Filipino farm workers in the first grape strike that brought about the creation of UFW. Larry Itliong, one of the principal organizers of Filipino farm workers is mostly unknown in the farm labor movement, yet it is Larry that was pivotal in convincing Chavez to join him and his union to strike.

Check out Larry’s story here:

And check out the documentary project that is bringing the story of Larry Itliong to light.

Momentum for DREAM Act intensifies as vote nears

Today, dozens of actions involving thousands of people are planned in support of the DREAM Act, highlighting the intense energy and popular support for this piece of legislation.  As we reported earlier, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he would attach the DREAM Act as an amendment to a defense authorization bill.   Tomorrow, Senators will vote on the measure.

In response, activists with Reform Immigration FOR America, Fair Immigration Reform Movement and DREAM organizations will be out in force showing their support in anticipation of the Senate’s vote.

The events taking place today include:

  • In Los Angeles, the National Korean American Services and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of LA (CHIRLA) are teaming up with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other civic leaders in a press conference to urge the Senate to pass the DREAM.
  • In Chicago, undocumented students will try to enlist in the armed forces at the Air Force Recruiting Office at Federal Plaza, before marching to the Republican State Offices where they will stay overnight in vigil and ask Republican Rep. Mark Kirk and the Republican Party to support the DREAM Act. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is helping organize the action.
  • In Phoenix, Michael Nazario, an undocumented student who wants to join the military, will be joined at the Arizona State Capitol lawn by other undocumented students who want to serve and veterans on the 5th day of his mock boot camp. Their action is directed at Sen. John McCain, a previous supporter of the DREAM.
  • In Orlando, the Florida Immigrant Coalition and others will stage a flash mob scene in front of Sen. Lemieux’s office this afternoon and ask passers-by to call his office to urge him to vote in favor of the bill. In Miami, undocumented students at Miami Dade College held a rally attended by Rep. Kendrick Meek.
  • In Maine, the Maine People’s Alliance is directing calls to Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who were among the 12 Republicans who voted for the DREAM Act in 2007, asking them to again stand on the right side of history.
  • In Denver, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, partner groups and elected officials will hold a press conference and rally to show that Colorado is fully behind the DREAM and will work hard to provide relief and respect to thousands of Colorado kids needing a chance. Sen. Bennet’s office will be represented by his state director.
  • Nationally, the Reform Immigration FOR America (RI4A) campaign is delivering thousands of calls to senators’ offices by reaching out to supporters through email and text messages.

The RI4A campaign has already turned out as many calls as they did in all of 2007.  That on top of turnout across the country in support of the DREAM Act show that the immigration reform movement is vibrant and organized.  And Congress better take note.

A quote from RI4A’s campaign manager:

“All over the country, the immigration reform movement is mobilizing to make DREAM a reality. The juxtaposition of the amazing energy and actions happening in cities all over the country with the partisan gridlock in D.C. is truly stunning.  We won’t take no for an answer. This is common sense legislation that will overwhelmingly benefit our military, our economy and the American workforce.  The groundswell of support and calls generated is testament to the growing power of our movement and the fervor behind this bill. It is time to pass the DREAM Act.”

Week of Action for the DREAM Act

Today, immigrant activists kicked off a week of action to push for the DREAM Act after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that it would be attached to a major defense bill.  The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for thousands of undocumented students. And, it would pave the way for more reform.  Since the announcement, other legislative leaders have stepped up in support for passage of the DREAM Act along with President Obama.

Now, immigrant activists are ramping up pressure to the U.S. Senate to make sure the DREAM Act is passed.

Check out their press conference here:

Speakers include:

Carlos Saavedra, United We DREAM Coalition – moderator
Angie Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy, Center for American Progress
Pramila Jayapal, founder and executive director, OneAmerica
Lindsay McCluskey, president of US Student Association
Yahaira Carrilo, The DREAM is coming
Tolu Olubumni, DREAM student
Felipe Matos, Trail of DREAMs

The Reform Immigration FOR America campaign lists way that you can support passsage of the DREAM Act.

Click here to call your Senator

Or use the numbers below to send a message to your Senator:

English: 866-996-5161
Spanish: 866-961-4293

Click here for more resources on the DREAM Act.