Tag Archives: immigration reform

Today Obama meets with Brewer. Will leadership ensue?

By guest blogger, Elisabeth Lesser.

Today, Governor Jan Brewer will meet with President Obama regarding border security and Arizona’s SB 1070. This will be the first meeting between Governor Brewer and the President since the Governor signed SB 1070 into law in April, and the tone set tomorrow by the President will send a clear message about his priorities and agenda in the face of such blatant disregard for social justice and basic civil rights.

Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, released the following statement regarding the meeting:

“We don’t expect much from a governor who’s clearly more interested in winning a primary election than she is in protecting her state. She’s firmly dug her partisan heels into the Arizona sand, and will only use the meeting with the President as a platform for even more political grandstanding.”

I’d like to add that there are plenty of good reasons why Governor Brewer doesn’t inspire confidence. She stands beside Sarah Palin in the ranks of smug, uber-conservative female politicians. Asked by CNN how she would respond if the Department of Justice attempted to challenge SB 1070, Brewer responded firmly:

“We’ll meet you in court… I have a pretty good record of winning in court.”

And even when confronted with proof that her reasons for enacting SB 1070, namely increased crime, are not true, she dismisses the facts and sticks to her misrepresentations.

Back to Bhargava’s statement:

“But from the President we do expect action. He should immediately cancel the 287 g and Secure Communities programs that opened the door to the racist, divisive law Brewer signed last month. By ending local law enforcement’s role in immigration law, the President will leave no doubt that immigration law is solely the federal government’s purview.  The President must also call for an immediate moratorium on deportations until comprehensive immigration is enacted, thus making a statement that hardworking men and women will not be separated from their families simply because Republicans have chosen to continue obstructing progress.”

Fortunately, the fight against the startlingly discriminatory Arizona law has been flooding national headlines. Yesterday, nonviolent civil disobedience in New York reached a pinnacle as 56 protesters were arrested, the latest in a campaign of civil disobedience that has led to the arrests of people in DC, LA, Chicago and Seattle. And in Los Angeles County, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to join the Arizona boycott. CCC pledged to join this boycott on May 6th, and you can learn more about why you too should join us here.

As we watch the immigration debate rekindle in full force and Arizona strips its residents of  adequate civil liberties, it is clear that the people of this country are up in arms, and that the federal government needs to act. Let’s hope the President has heard the united voices against SB 1070 and will finally deliver on his campaign promise to actively reform our nation’s broken immigration system, once and for all.

RNC meeting yields conflicting stories (nothing new for Michael Steele)

Yesterday, 10 FIRM leaders met with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to discuss immigration reform. The meeting was a direct result of a sit-in that activists staged on March 22nd at RNC headquarters. After the meeting, the leaders reported that Steele committed to:

…work with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and the party’s leadership to enlist another Republican senator’s support for comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform

However, only a few hours later, a spokesperson for the RNC issued a statement denying any such commitment and backing away from support of immigration reform.

From the New York Times:

Doug Heye, a spokesman for Mr. Steele, dismissed that account as “100 per cent inaccurate.”

Mr. Steele “makes it a priority to meet with different grassroots activists who are concerned with the direction of our country,” Mr. Heye wrote in an e-mail. “Today’s meeting was meant as an opportunity to listen to concerns and discuss the Republican Party’s strong support of legal immigration.

“Any claim that the RNC made any policy commitments is a clear misrepresentation,” Mr. Heye said.

April fool’s? Josh Hoyt of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights had this to say about the mixed messages:

“Steele seemed legitimately moved by the need to broaden the GOP tent on this issue.  He seemed to understand the political dilemma of continuing to offend immigrant and Latino communities by politicizing this issue rather than moving forward with practical and what he termed ‘holistic’ reform.  But the sun didn’t even set before we got the message they were just kidding.”

The leaders present for the conversation insist that the meeting was, in fact, productive and feel it’s unfortunate that the RNC is choosing to back away from their commitments.

“It was a productive meeting,” said Pramila Jayapal, executive director of OneAmerica. “I’m surprised that Chairman Steele backed away from all of the next steps we outlined together.”

While it’s frequently been said that immigration reform will be a bi-partisan issue, this event continues to expose the willingness of some members of the GOP to use immigration as a wedge or a political football.

“The future of their party is not with extremist and often hateful anti-immigrant tea party activists. Up until yesterday, activists across the country were focusing their anger on the Obama Administration whose enforcement policies are tearing apart immigrant families and congressional Democrats who have shown very little leadership on CIR. But yesterday, we were reminded of another central problem: GOP obstructionism.”

Oh and if you’re wondering why conflicting stories are nothing new for Steele (or if you’ve been living under a rock), you can learn more here.

Michael Steele will meet with immigration reform advocates tomorrow

While Michael Steele has been in the news for some… less than savory activities lately, he has also been making news for a good cause.

From Jackie Mahendra at America’s Voice (and cross posted on DailyKos):

In light of the recent, um, developments this week, I’m wondering if RNC Chairman Michael Steele will be keeping his hard-won meeting with grassroots Latino and immigration reform advocates on Wednesday. These community leaders staged a sit-in at the RNC last Monday, just one day after 200,000 people from across the country traveled thousands of miles to march for real immigration reform in Washington, D.C.

In case you couldn’t hear it, that’s Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of ICIRR stating:

Family values are about not destroying families

When it comes to immigration reform, Republicans certainly could use an image boost with Latino voters.

From the Fair Immigration Reform Movement:

Meeting participants include: Tony Asion, executive director, El Pueblo, Inc. (North Carolina); Xiomara E. Corpeño, director of organizing and membership, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles; Ricardo Perez, founder and executive director, Hispanic Affairs Pastoral Project (Colorado); Joshua Hoyt, executive director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Luis Huerta, student at Rio Hondo Community College and steering committee member of the California Dream Network; Pramila Jayapal, founder and executive director, OneAmerica (Washington); Eun Sook Lee, executive director, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium; Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director, Voces de la Frontera (Wisconsin); Tim O’Harrow, member of the Council of Rural Initiatives and the Dairy Business Association; Julien Ross, executive director, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition; and Sergio Suarez, successful businessman and entrepreneur (Chicago)

WHY: Less than two weeks after bringing more than 200,000 people to Washington to demand Congress and President Obama step up efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, immigrant rights leaders are continuing to press for action. They are meeting with RNC Chairman Michael Steele to demand that the Republican Party and Republican members of Congress work with Democrats to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year. Participants will be available for comments and questions following the meeting.

The meeting was granted to leaders of the immigration reform movement following a peaceful sit-in at the RNC headquarters last week. A group of about 40 protesters occupied the RNC lobby on Monday, March 22, 2010, with more than 40 other protesters singing and chanting in the rain outside. Legislative efforts in the House and Senate have drawn public support from only one Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham. The leaders intend to ask Steele, who has publicly expressed concerns about his party’s future if it continues to be perceived as hostile toward immigrants and Latinos, for help in persuading more Republicans to come out in favor of reforming our broken immigration system.

We will be keeping you updated about how the meeting goes. Let’s just say that this could be a chance for Mr. Steele to help out his public image and we hope he takes advantage of it.

On to the next one: After the march, activists shut down RNC

While everyone was still riding high on the wave of excitement from the March For America, there was a group of 75 activists that woke up that next morning ready for more.

Early Monday morning, the group of youth, faith leaders and immigration advocates entered the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters with one goal: a meeting with RNC Chairman Michael Steele about GOP support for immigration reform.

The group quietly and peacefully walked into the headquarters and staged a sit-in, praying, singing and sharing stories while RNC employees tried their best to ignore them and go about business as usual.

Nathan Ryan of ICIRR was there:

As people at the RNC continued to try and operate normally, we prayed for families destroyed by deportations, waived signs that said “Destroying Families is not a Family Value” and chanted.

Then we added another layer of pressure: dozens of supporters picketed outside the office in the pouring rain, chanting and singing.

Here I would like to note that while we were marching by the hundreds of thousands on Sunday, the nation’s capitol was drenched in sunshine and warm weather. I think it only fitting that this action was done under adverse conditions, adding to the show of unrelenting pressure on the Republican party to support immigration reform.

And we won. Eventually, we got a hold of RNC Deputy Director of Coalitions Manuel “Manny” A. Rosales, who talked to Steele. Steele agreed to a meeting on March 31st with 6 of our representatives from around the country.

It has been stated over and over that immigration reform is a bipartisan issue. But with much of the GOP ready and willing to throw immigrants under the bus for political gain, the road ahead is a steep one. Republicans would do well, however, to heed the research being done by groups like America’s Voice, when considering their position on this issue. There is a midterm election in just a few short months and Latino and New American voters are a force to be reckoned with.

“Immigration reform has always been a bipartisan issue, and we need today’s Republican Party to show the same leadership as Bush and Reagan,” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told the activists rallying outside the RNC. “If Republican politicians choose to play politics with the lives of immigrants and their families, Latino and immigrant voters will not forget who stood against reform in November.”

In the mean time, the hard-hitting organizing happening at both the local and National level will continue. As it should be

March For (the hopeful) America

March for America 2010
There is plenty to say about the political moment we find ourselves in after the March For America, but I wanted to take a moment to personally reflect on the day. While there is no way to do the full experience justice, I’m going to try.

Sunday, I was on the National Mall with 200,000 of my closest friends making history. The March For America exceeded my expectations as I watched communities from across the country come together to bring joy from suffering and hope from pain. I heard stories of people from across the country who were uniting to raise one voice for justice and humanity in our immigration system. I saw more American flags than I thought possible in one space. I felt the sun on my face as we “stood at the doorstep of history” and made our mark on this moment in time.

I was live-blogging the day on the March For America site and despite the shaky internet connection and the inch of dust on my laptop from the National Mall grounds kicked up during the party, I was able to capture a lot of the day and had the privilege of others joining me and commenting on the action.

For me of the most powerful thing about the day was the festive, almost jubilant mood that ran through the crowd. Despite the frustration we all felt and despite the continued terrorization of communities, the separation of families and the broken dreams, people were dancing in the streets.

On Sunday, a friend of mine in the crowd said this (via Twitter):

“Singing, smiling, hugs, music. This is not just a demonstration, its a fiesta.”

In stark contrast, there were anti-immigrant counter-protestors throughout the crowd, trying to incite arguments and frame our day of triumph as an invasion of the scary, scary “illegals”. At one point, a bodyguard of one of their leaders even assaulted a peaceful protestor.

The New York Times ran a great piece this morning comparing the March For America with the anti-healthcare rally from a small group of Tea Partiers just yards away from our 200,000 person crowd. The full piece is well worth the read, but the last few paragraphs especially bring it home:

Many tens of thousands of immigrants and allies were pressing for immigration reform. It’s an issue for which they have marched and waited, marched and waited — their hopes dashed repeatedly. Sunday’s rally was a demand for action.

“We’ve listened quietly. We’ve asked politely,” said Representative Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat. “We’ve turned the other cheek so many times our heads are spinning.”

If anyone has reason to fear government, it is immigrants like those at the rally, which Mr. Obama addressed via a jumbo TV screen. The government has violently invaded their lives, broken into homes, torn parents from children and sent them away to distant prisons. They have law-scoffing sheriffs and brutal employers and unjust laws aiming just at them.

This is a fear the Kill-the-Billers will never know. No matter how darkly they loathe Medicare, unemployment insurance or Social Security, the safety net is theirs for life.

It’s usually best to avoid depicting life in black-white contrast. Not this time. Here were two rallies: one good, one loathsome. One hopeful, one paranoid. One trying to repair how Washington works for all America, and one looking to break it so the system can go on failing.

Kill the bill! Sí, se puede! Same beat, different drums. I’ll take the one that rings with patience and hope. Sounds more American.

Sunday showed me the best of what it means to be American – something that I don’t always see from mass demonstrations on the Mall (to say the least). It was a day that gave our movement hope. It was a fiesta, it was la lucha and it was a breakthrough in the struggle to bring justice to the millions of people who live each day in fear. Sunday there was no fear, there was only hope and light. (And dancing).

State of the Union: Disappointment and Determination

Last night, along with many of you, I tuned into President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address. While I was genuinely interested to hear the President speak on the full scope of the issues facing our country right now – and there are many – I was, of course, especially interested to hear what he would say about immigration reform. More pointedly, I wanted to know if he would say anything at all.

Towards the end of the speech, word 6,300 of 7,000 total to be exact, President Obama did mention immigration.

“We should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system to secure our borders, enforce our laws and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.”

While I was glad that the issue was mentioned and that the President noted the current system is broken, I think I speak for many passionate immigrant rights and immigration reform advocates when I say I was more than a little disappointed.

After words of commitment at key times, after the Latino and New American vote helped put him into office, after months of  lip service to the idea of just and humane reform, after years(s) of hard work and organizing, after flexing our political muscles on the Hill, in the streets and across the country, we deserve more.

As Maegan at VivirLatino pointed out, last night was a missed opportunity to demonstrate to the American public why immigration reform is inextricably linked to the other major issues facing our country.

He failed, as so many do, in pointing out where health care reform and immigration reform intersect.

And where the economy and immigration reform intersect and where immigration reform and jobs intersect. At one point, the President said:

“In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency.”

And it’s time that government produce an immigration system that matches the country’s decency too. Too many people are suffering right now at the hands of this broken system, for it to just be a passing thought in laying out the domestic agenda.

So, where do we go from here? For those of us who remain committed to seeing this through in 2010, for those of us who refuse to believe that last night was the “death knell” for reform?

First, we organize. We keep knocking on doors, holding town halls, protesting in the streets and marching on Washington. We win hearts and minds and political power the old-fashioned way: through action.

Second, we keep the pressure on Congress. Today alone, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid publicly stated the Senate’s commitment to immigration reform, Senator Chuck Schumer noted that progress is being made on the legislation he is currently drafting and Rep. Luis Gutierrez took it to the blogosphere to remind Congress that the responsibility rests squarely on their shoulders:

Though he clearly supports the notion that our laws must reflect the contributions immigrants have made to literally build this country, it is clear to me that Congress cannot wait for the President to lay out our time-line for comprehensive reform.

Third, we raise the stakes. We start demanding reform, rather than asking. It is clear that Congress is still more swayed by their fear of the political complexity of this issue than they are of the power of the immigration reform movement and the political power of the Latino and immigrant electorate. Its time to change that.

In the next few months, there are some big things planned, including a large-scale march on Washington, DC on March 21st. Its time to show Congress that we WILL hold them accountable and its time to force President Obama to take the leadership he promised on this issue.

With this said, it’s worth noting that using one speech as the barometer for the likelihood of a huge issue’s success or lack thereof is probably not the best approach to take. While I will admit that I was disappointed and a bit disheartened last night, it has only stoked the fire of my commitment to see this issue through in a real and tangible way.

But determining the future of immigration reform on a “word count” in the State of the Union address is bad strategy. Instead, immigration advocates should keep Presidential promises in perspective, redouble their efforts and continue to hold Congress’s feet to the fire.

Who’s with me?

CIR ASAP – Who wants to make some history?

I’ve fallen off the blogmap in the past week or so. Between the introduction of CIR ASAP by Representative Luis Gutierrez and preparations for 2010 actions, I’ve been struggling to find time to write. However, there has been so much to write I feel like it will take a while to catch up. But I’m going to try.

First, and foremost, there was the introduction of the CIR ASAP act by Representative Luis Gutierrez. I wrote a round-up of coverage at the RI4A blog that I think captures the excitement and importance of this moment in the fight for immigration reform.

Like Rep. Gutierrez said, there is no longer an excuse for inaction from this Congress and especially from the administration. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama have continued to reaffirm their support for CIR, but we need to see more firm leadership on this issue and now is the time to step up. All reports indicate that a Senate bill from Senator Chuck Schumer is in the works for early 2010. Now, more than ever, we need each and every voice to join in the fight.

While CIR ASAP is not perfect (the exclusion of LGBT families being a key point of contention) it is by far the best version of an immigration reform bill that we are going to see. It is absolutely essential that we show widespread support for the bill, in order to frame the debate as we head into 2010. You can send a fax in support by clicking here.

As Frank Sharry of America’s Voice noted, this is just the beginning of the fight.

“[CIR ASAP] is the first step in what I anticipate will be a six month, all-out-fight to pass real, comprehensive reform that restores justice to our broken immigration system.  When it is signed into law, this legislation will be one of the largest leaps forward for civil rights that our nation has seen in over 30 years.”

Last week, Representative Gutierrez signaled that its game on for immigration reform. We have the opportunity to fight for (and win) legislation that will improve the lives of millions of Americans and will be a giant victory for the rights of all people. Who’s ready to make history in 2010?

L.A. will rally for immigration reform on January 23rd, 2010

From our guest blogger, Robert Gittelson.

Over the years, I have been a huge supporter of Representative Luis Gutierrez’s efforts to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Therefore, I was neither surprised nor disappointed by the extremely worthy legislation, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity, (CIR ASAP), that he and his fellow House members delivered on 12/15/09. In my opinion, the bill lays out the groundwork for a very intelligent, cogent, and realistic pathway that will enable our nation to achieve a fair and just immigration policy.

However, as someone who is deeply involved in the intricacies of this issue on a daily basis, I have to look at this legislation from within the context of the honest and realistic environment that this CIR bill will need to navigate, as it works its way through the Congress and to President Obama’s desk. Last week, I spoke at a press conference in Los Angeles. During my speech, I attempted to highlight the following points, as I explained my reasoning as to why I now felt that the time had indeed arrived for supporters of CIR to publicly demonstrate their support for CIR.

I explained that while the CIR ASAP bill was an important step in the pathway toward achieving CIR, the fact of the matter was that House Speaker Polosi has already stated publicly that she has no intention of allowing this bill anywhere near the floor of the House, unless and until CIR has already passed in the Senate. On a positive note, there are indications that the Senate will start work on this as early as mid-January, or February at the latest. However, we all have to bear in mind that we have a rather small window of opportunity to get this legislation passed, or the politics of the mid-term elections will negate any possibility of legislative action for realistically another two years or more.

New York Senator Charles Schumer has indicated that significant progress has been made in seeking to achieve comprehensive immigration reform early next year. Schumer gave a lengthy interview to El Diario this week in which he made some very telling points about his strategy, as immigration reform becomes an issue on the agenda for the early months of 2010. Clearly he is trying to achieve a fait accompli before the bill ever gets to the House or Senate floor. He is working closely with Senator Lindsey Graham to try and achieve that. (The following quotes are a Google translation form the original Spanish version that appeared in El Diario).

“The only way I can make this happen, is that when we announce the law, we are all together, immigrants, employers, trade unions, religious groups, evangelical, Democrats and Republicans, “Schumer said stating that negotiations between these groups have made considerable progress.”

I went on to discuss my opinion that now it is incumbent upon all supporters of a fair and just CIR to hold our government’s feet to the fire, and to flex our newly organized political and public muscle. We collectively need to take to the streets in substantial numbers, so that the politicians realize that this is an issue that cannot be shoved into a drawer for a later date. The time and opportunity to pass a bill is now, and we cannot rest until that dream becomes a reality. One of my fellow Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition members put it this way:

“Now that Congressman Gutierrez has presented his immigration reform bill, and that Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have indicated they will be doing the same soon, perhaps we can get on with the urgent business of fixing our broken immigration system”, stated LIUNA/Change to Win’s labor organizer Magdalena Gomez. “Undocumented immigrants need to be brought out of the underground economy and into the light of mainstream America. Affording immigrants the opportunity to legalize their immigration status will represent a net gain to the U.S. economy. Thus, immigrants could become part and parcel of the ongoing financial recovery package our country so urgently needs”, concluded Ms. Gomez.

In support of the just introduced Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation in the United States House of Representatives, and in anticipation of the soon to be introduced CIR legislation in the United States Senate, we are inviting the greater San Fernando Valley / Los Angeles community to join together in the following advocacy events on Saturday 1/23/10:

First, an uplifting and motivational outdoor rally at the Van Nuys Civic Center at 11:00 am, as we unite in our joy and optimism that CIR will finally be enacted early in 2010.

Next, we will march to express our commitment and our solidarity in advocating for the swift passage of CIR. Together we will march from the Van Nuys Civic Center to the Church on the Way at 14800 Sherman Way Blvd., Van Nuys, California., (a close and very large suburb of Los Angeles).

Finally, we will have an important and serious panel discussion of national experts at the church, moderated by Pastor Jim Tolle of the Church on the Way, followed by a comprehensive question and answer session, where members of the community can ask experts in the field of immigration reform any questions that they have about the proposed CIR legislation, or to express their concerns about what CIR will mean to the community, the state, and the country. Our coalition feels that the San Fernando Valley has been somewhat underserved on this issue. However, we have faith that these important events planned for Saturday 1/23/10 will unite the community behind a national effort to pass this legislation, for the greater good of our society.

In my speech, I discussed that while intellectually I understood and believed that CIR is and should be legally recognized as a national and federal issue, emotionally I had to acknowledge that fundamentally and personally, CIR was a community issue. The greater San Fernando Valley is home to over 1,000,000 immigrants. I explained that it was truly a tragedy that as many as several hundred thousand of our friends, neighbors, and co-workers in our community were undocumented, and were therefore relegated to the shadows of our society. The rights and privileges that the rest of us often take for granted will not be available to our undocumented residents, unless and until a fair, just, and comprehensive CIR bill is signed by our President.

One of the local San Fernando Valley newspapers mentioned,

“…various organizations have announced a discussion to take place Saturday January 23 in the San Fernando Valley to promote support for comprehensive and just immigration reform.”

The numerous organizations supporting the January 23rd events include:

The Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, The Church On The Way, CHIRLA, Vamos Unidos USA, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, Laborers International Union of North America(LUNA AFL-CIO) Latino Movement USA,  the ANSWER Coalition,Alianza Bi-nacional BraceroProa, Alianza Hondureña de Los Angeles, la Federación de Clubes y Organizaciones de Zacatecas, Frente Amplio Zacatecano, Casa Nicaragua,  Comité de Lucha del Poblado El Papalote, A.C., Federación de Clubes y Organizaciones de Chihuahua, National Alliance of Senior Citizens, Movimiento de Lucha Magisterial, A.C., A. J., The United Teachers of Los Angeles, UTLA Chicano-Latino Education Committee, UTLA East Area, Coalición de Emigrantes Guatemaltecos, and others.

One of my fellow advocates speaking at the press conference was the nationally known Pastor Jim Tolle. He called on area residents of all faiths to join him and our coalition in supporting CIR, and to participate in the events of 1/23/10. Pastor Tolle was recently honored to have been invited to participate in Senator Schumer’s Senate Immigration Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C..  As part of his written testimony, he wrote:

As a faith leader, I have responded to the instructions of Scripture. They have formed my worldview on this subject. My pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform comes from Leviticus 19:34, which states, “The stranger who dwells with you shall be unto you just as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself.” The Prophet Malachi further admonishes every believer to not “turn away the alien”, while Jesus, in Matthew 25:35, calls upon all who follow him to invite the stranger to come in. Jesus ultimately adds his confirmation to that of Isaiah’s . . . that he was to “proclaim liberty” to all.
Although every generation has had its own set of challenges, those who have joined the great American journey have always sought to fulfill the spirit of the above beliefs with immigrants of their generation. It is my hope that our generation will make the hard moral decisions. Comprehensive immigration reform is the right moral decision. Our country has assimilated millions upon millions of immigrants over the centuries. We are a nation of immigrants. Why should we stop now?”

Representative Luis Gutierrez: “Comprehensive Immigration Reform, A.S.A.P.”

Reform Immigration FOR America!

Originally posted on the Reform Immigration FOR America blog.

In anticipation of the big day today, Representative Luis Gutierrez is takin’ it to the blogosphere to discuss introducing the “CIR ASAP act”.

Representative Gutierrez, who traveled the country this past year on the United Families tour, knows first-hand how our currently broken immigration system is harming families and communities. In his piece at the Huffington Post, he drives home the urgency of the need for reform and explains why this issue is at the crux of who we are as a nation.

In twenty-four cities across the country, we heard from families who were being ripped apart by the current system. We’ve heard stories from a father dying from cancer whose wife faced deportation. We’ve heard from American citizen children who are faced with choosing between their parents and a college education.

This is a crisis. It’s a crisis of human and civil rights, it’s a crisis of our economy and our workforce, and it’s a crisis of national security. This is why we cannot wait any longer. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2009 is a solution that we, as a nation of immigrants, can be proud of.

Perhaps most importantly, Representative Gutierrez noted that after tomorrow, there are no more excuses for inaction on the urgent issue.

We’ve waited a long time for this — a workable solution to our immigration crisis.

Our bill will be presented before Congress heads home for the holidays so that there is no excuse for inaction in the New Year.

And he reiterated that President Obama should make good on his campaign promise to support comprehensive immigration reform

During the campaign, Barack Obama made a commitment to push for real, comprehensive immigration reform. As President, he’s reaffirmed that promise to the nation and to me personally.

You can read the full version of Representative Gutierrez’s post here.

One thing is clear: this is a decisive moment in the movement for immigration reform. Today, Representative Luis Gutierrez will sound the call to action. It will be up to us to respond.

I hope you’re ready!

One step closer to stopping Rigo’s deportation

Originally posted at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights blog.

Today, December 4th, elected officials including U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), State Representative Greg Harris (D-13) and Chicago Alderman George Cardenas (12th ward) joined more than two hundred high school and college students, immigrant advocates, and college professors to rally for an immediate stop to the deportation of Rigo Padilla, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago scheduled for deportation on December 16.

It was a spirited rally to call for just and humane immigration reform and to urge a halt on Rigo Padilla’s deportation. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky announced that yesterday she had filed a private bill, HR 4212, asking that Rigo Padilla be granted legal permanent resident status.

Father Mike Shanahan closed the rally announcing an action of civil disobedience in front of the Federal Building on the Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec. 12) if the Obama administration proceeds with Rigo’s deportation.

Rigo exemplifies what is wrong with the immigration system and the need to stop senseless deportations. Under Obama administration, deportations have increased 18%. Unfortunately Rigo is one of millions of good people that contribute to this country but nevertheless are in risk of deportation.

Following the rally, participants marched to the Federal Building while holding signs, American flags, and chanting “Our Youth, Our Nation, No more senseless Deportations”. A delegation presented copies of a petition, signed by more than 880 faculty members from colleges and universities across Illinois and the nation, to the staff of Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Roland Burris, asking that Rigo Padilla’s deportation be deferred.

Finally, today Congressman Mike Quigley added his support to that of Congressmen Schakowsky, Rush, Gutierrez, and Davis in asking that the deportation of Rigo Padilla be deferred.

But the fight isn’t over. Please help us reach our goal of sending 25,000 faxes to Secretary Napolitano, ICE Director John Morton, Senator Durbin, and Senator Burris. All of whom have the power to stop Rigo’s deportation.

Click here to send a free fax!

You can also help by sharing Rigo’s story with your family and friends and joining the cause on Facebook.

Progress Illinois has a great post about the event with video below:

View more photos of the rally below: