Category Archives: Action

FIRM leads thousands in Montgomery march against HB-56 at conclusion of Immigrant National Convention

On Saturday, December 17, more than 2,500 people gathered at the Alabama State Capitol and marched to the Governor’s Mansion to denounce HB56 and support its repeal.  The march marked the conclusion of the Immigrant National Convention, organize by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and hosted by the Alabama Immigrant Justice Coalition (ACIJ).

From the Field: Update from Iowa CCI Latino Organizing Project

Ruth Schultz, an organizer with Iowa Citizens Community Improvement, provides this update on the CCI Latino Organizing Project:

It’s been a busy week!  We organized a powerful wage theft action to publically call out the owner of Margarita’s Bar and Grill, Ivan Escalona, for not paying his workers. We brought a lively group of 45 people which included some Occupy Des Moines allies! Ivan refused to meet with us or even a delegation of leaders and would not accept our letter.  We got what we came for, though, which was news coverage and a public entrance into this campaign.  All three local news channels featured the action on the news on Friday night and the Des Moines Register wrote an article.  Next step in the campaign: wait a little while to see if Ivan or more workers who he owes money to call us.  We will push for the investigation with the US Department of Labor and put in more complaints against Margarita’s if Ivan refuses to cooperate and change his ways. Here’s a link to CCI’s new website and the news roundup.

Also, 15 CCI members attended the Des Moines City Council meeting last night to speak against the ICE detention center and the repeated postponement of the hearing.  The City Council heard our frustration with the delay loud and clear and set the hearing for Monday, December 19th. We’re pretty sure that December 19th will be the day! We will meet at City Hall at 4:30 pm and everyone should get ready to give testimony.

Finally, we received news from the Polk County Sheriff Department that the Grand Jury hearing on the facts of Deputy Vanhoozer’s alleged assault against three Latino males will be next week.  The Grand Jury is not public but we will stay on top of this issue and report back once we have more information. The Sheriff Department is also working on a list of what offenses are or are not fingerprinted for in Polk County Jail so we can educate our members and the Latino community on their rights after the Sheriff’s announcement at our meeting last month.

Editor’s note: yesterday, Yahoo!News also ran this article on the effects of immigration raids in Iowa — effects that are still being felt more than three years after immigration officials scooped up 20% of Postville, Iowa’s population in a single day.

Immigrants in solidarity with Wisconsin workers!


Immigrant workers in the United States know what it’s like to be unfairly pitted against workers.  At FIRM, we believe supporting the rights of immigrants and the rights of all workers is the same struggle.

In fact, studies show that immigration reform would raise the floor for all workers.  And conversely, supporting the rights of workers helps all of us, including immigrants.  This is why immigrant communities are rallying in solidarity with Wisconsin workers.

This week, the state’s senate Republicans caught most of the world off guard by staging a late night meeting where they passed Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal that strips nearly all bargaining rights from public workers. The measure was passed despite the absence of all senate Democrats by removing all fiscal aspects of the bill, which in turn nullified the need for a quorum.

Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, told the Washington Post:

“The vote does nothing to create jobs, does nothing to strengthen our state, and shows finally and utterly that this was never about anything but raw political power,” . “We now put our total focus on recalling the eligible Republicans who voted for this bill. And we also begin counting the days remaining before Scott Walker is himself eligible for recall.”

Questions abound about the legitimacy of the move, but most interesting to me is this opinion from Milwaukee City Attorney Grant Langley who claims it is not constitutional.  The legality may be uncertain, but what is clear is that this bill is wrong for Wisconsin.  It’s wrong for workers. It’s wrong for everyone.

The bill now goes to the Republican-controlled House and then to the governor’s desk for signing. Walker, of course, is anxiously awaiting it.

The actions of Republicans in Wisconsin are in line with what seems to be the strategy of Republicans everywhere: divide our communities, do nothing to actually create jobs, destroy the unions who built America’s middle class, cut a thousand holes in the social programs safety net, cut funding that helps women and children, and give all breaks to the very wealthy.

The good news out of Wisconsin, news every Republican thinking of emulating Wisconsin should consider, is this: the push to recall the Republican state senators is gaining momentum.  It is awesome and inspiring to see the people rising up and pushing back.  This is what democracy looks like!

Meanwhile, if this story has your blood boiling, there is a simple way to get involved. Call Republican Gov. Scott Walker at 866-956-1737 and tell him NOT to sign this bill.

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

Notes from a NYC Jail…

by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

Hello, everybody!  I just got back from spending time in a NYC jail for participating in a civil disobedience action in support of immigration reform and against SB 1070 in Arizona.  This is the first time I’ve participated in a civil disobedience action and the first time I’ve ever been arrested.

I’d do it again.

Most of you have read my personal immigration story.  I’m a U.S. citizen.  I’m the son of immigrants and a staunch ally to immigrants in all of the communities that have impacted me.

My decision to engage in civil disobedience today reflects my solidarity with all immigrants, documented and undocumented, that are struggling within a set of laws that are outdated and inhumane.  My decision reflects my personal frustration with Arizona’s new law and with general inaction on immigration reform on a federal level,  the crazy amounts of nativism and nationalism in the immigration debate (and in my inbox)  and the constant dehumanization of immigrants who are my friends, neighbors and fellow movement shakers.

It’s totally personal!!

And I must say that a large part of my decision to make a statement and risk arrest was to rep for all those folks that cannot afford to go through our nation’s criminal justice system, despite their significant investment in immigration reform.  I’m talking about undocumented immigrants, immigrants who are trans- and gender non-conforming (they separated us by perceived gender and checked IDs), and other young men and women of color (although there were quite a few today!) who are criminalized everyday.

This was for them too.

With 109 arrests, New York is playing a lead role in a national movement of nonviolent civil disobedience (as practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.) for immigration reform.  Recent civil disobedience actions also have taken place in Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, Tucson, Detroit, San Francisco, and Seattle.  We’ve covered some of these actions in this blog.

Now let’s see if the other states can catch up!

The series of civil disobedience actions in NYC began on May 17th, when 16 New Yorkers were arrested.  The following week, 37 were arrested in a similar action.  And today, a total of 56 people were arrested.  Several elected officials were arrested in those actions:  City Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Jumaane D. Williams, Danny Dromm and Melissa Mark-Viverito, and State Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat.

Shout-outs to the New York Immigration Coalition for organizing the civil disobedience action and the Center for Constitutional Rights for providing legal support for those arrested.

Photos:  New York Immigration Coalition.  Thanks Frances!

PS — I decided to wear one of my most fabulous outfits for the action.  How do I look?

Stop the Deportation of Selvin Arevalo

by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

Have you heard of Selvin Arevalo’s story?

Selvin came to Portland, Maine as a 14-year old.   He was detained right after finishing high school after a minor car accident.  Over the last 10 years, Selvin worked as a house painter to support his family back in Guatemala.    Community members describe him as having exhibited tremendous personal growth and being an overall outstanding member of the community.

Quotes from the Portland Press Herald:

“Selvin is like any one of us. He came to this country looking to better himself,” said his close friend Isai “Jessy” Galvez. “He supports his two brothers, a sister and his mother, who had open-heart surgery.

“He has shown that he is a benefit to our society. It would be a tragedy to send him back now,” said Galvez, 20, who attends college in Portland.”

If the President and Congress fail to act on immigration reform this year, many young, undocumented folks like Selvin will graduate with no future outlook, condemned to a life in the shadows.  Some will even be deported to countries that they haven’t lived in for years.

There’s something to be said about the economic and social capital we’d be losing from deporting folks like Selvin.  Case study after case study shows that immigrants expand economic opportunity for all Americans in the long haul.  And personal stories from friends of Selvin demonstrate the gains we experience as a community from immigrants.

There is a petition circulating on Change.org to keep Selvin in the United States.  Click on the link to sign it!

Dear Mr. President: Hope and change aren’t achieved through symbolic gestures

by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

Yesterday, President Obama met with Senate Republicans to lay out a legislative agenda for immigration reform.   While this was a positive step, it’s ridiculous that he caved into fear-based Republican thinking by announcing that he will send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and request an extra $500 million to secure the Mexican border.

This effort is a symbolic gesture that will neither make the American people safer nor fix the broken immigration system.  Instead, it rewards the obstructionists who are playing on America’s misplaced fears.

The fact is that spending on border security and immigration enforcement are already at their highest levels . Demands for even more immigration enforcement as a pretext for passing comprehensive immigration reform does not make sense.  Violence and crime on the US-Mexico border has been “on the decline” in recent years. And as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said, the border is as “secure now as it has ever been.”

Why waste time, money and resources on securing a border that is already secure?

The best way to secure the border is comprehensive immigration reform.

Comprehensive immigration reform, which would include provisions for border security, would provide a realistic mechanism for future legal immigration and would generate at least $1.5 trillion in cumulative GDP over ten years.  And by creating a more flexible visa system, immigration reform would  likely allow border patrol to focus their resources on actual threats to public safety and national security instead of pursuing those who simply come to the U.S. to work and feed their families.

The President is caving to obstructionist political posturing.  The National Guard won’t make us safer.  Republicans would like us to think so but we know they are only capitalizing on the public’s misguided fear.   Only comprehensive reform will address the immigration issue.

3 Undocumented Youth Calling for Immediate Passage of the DREAM Act Detained in Arizona

by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

Yesterday, on the anniversary of landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, five leaders of the immigrant student movement staged a sit-in at Senator John McCain’s office in Tucson, Arizona. Mohammad, Yahaira, Lizbeth and Raul, all of whom are undocumented, were arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges.  One of the leaders, Tania was not arrested and is serving as a spokesperson for the four that were arrested.

The New York Times reports that this “was the first time students have directly risked deportation in an effort to prompt Congress to take up a bill that would benefit illegal immigrant youths.”

Lizbeth, from Chicago and one of the arrested youth,  states:

“There are already ten other states across the country considering immigration legislation similar to Arizona’s: legislation that is anti-family, anti-democratic, and anti-freedom. Police states and enforcement are quickly becoming the standard, and we are running out of time. We are going to pass the DREAM Act because it is based on freedom and equality.”

That’s right!  Immigrant youth are turning up the heat for immigration reform, specifically the DREAM Act.

Think about it.  These four leaders are risking deportation in the hope that this action will make a significant contribution to the fight for immigrant rights.  In fact, many undocumented youth are risking everything by “coming out” with their undocumented status.

Let’s take a moment to commend their bravery.  Their risk is propelling our movement for justice forward.

Photos:  DreamNow2010

“I ask Obama to stop putting mothers in jail…”

by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

New Jersey is stepping up to the plate!

Check out Spanish-language coverage of an Mother’s Day immigration action by New Labor in New Jersey.

A young immigrant activist in this clip says “I ask [President] Obama to stop putting mothers in jail, and put mothers with their kids.”

Funny how children can boil down an issue to its most essential parts.

Check out these photos from other pro-migrant actions in  New Jersey.   Let’s keep the pressure on!

Activists in Trenton, NJ.

Rallying in Hightstown, NJ

At the steps at NJ’s capital.

Photos:  New Jersey Immigration Policy Network

Moving testimony from Chicago Mother’s Day Action

by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

On Mother’s Day, a group of immigrant children from the suburbs of Chicago took to the streets in support of immigration reform.  Here is one child’s testimony in front of the ICE detention center.

My name is Ernesto.

On the 28th of August in 2008, my mother was detained in Des Plaines while driving with my younger brother who was 14 at the time. She was stopped by the police and then arrested. They left my brother Tomas in the car alone and took my mother away. She was then transferred to McHenry County Detention Center, where she was detained for 3 months. I was scared that I would never see my mother again. I am the oldest of my two brothers, at that time I was 16. While my mother was detained, my brother Tomas and I took care of our little brother Randy. We cared for ourselves, doing the house chores, and making sure we continued with school. We never told anyone at school because we were afraid we would be taken away and be separated. Through this, Tomas and I had no other choice than to mature faster than we should have, we took care our little brother to keep our family together.  The day before Thanksgiving, my mother was released and she is now fighting her deportation. That day we felt happy that she was back with us.

President Obama, you have said your mother played an important role in your life, you’ve credited her with helping you be the man you are today. If you know the importance of children being with their mothers, how dare you allow for the separation of children from their mothers?

If your mother had been detained and taken away from you in the middle of the night, ripped from you, would you be the man you are today?

My mother is everything to me, and for my brothers. We want to have the opportunity to live our lives with her, to share our accomplishments in life with her. We don’t want to be separated again.

President Obama, I call on you to use your executive power and stop the deportations, stop the destruction of our families! You promised during your campaign that you would pass immigration reform the first year of your presidency.  We believed you, and Latinos came out to vote in record numbers.

Instead all we have seen is more deportations, more fear and destruction in our communities! We have seen your party and the Republican Party run away from immigration, play with our lives and those of our families!

President Obama, we are tired of your broken promises, your empty words! I call on you today to fulfill your promise, pass immigration reform this year!

Immigrant children marched alongside Ernesto to make sure immigrant families like his stay together.  Here are some more photos from the event:

Check back for more report-backs on immigration reform actions across the country.  Cause you know you’re not going to find this type of coverage in the news.

Photos: P.A.S.O.- West Suburban Action Project

Contact P.A.S.O. at info.paso.organizing [at] gmail.com