Tag Archives: luis gutierrez

What does Disney have in common with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus?

Give up? They both want to escalate efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.

Today, immigration reform saw a welcome two steps forward. First, a press conference today marked over 100 co-sponsors for the CIR ASAP bill, introduced last fall by Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).  At the press conference, members of Congress reaffirmed and intensified their commitment to passing immigration reform.

Much of the message was framed around the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona and the copycat laws that are springing up around the country. Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Barbara Lee spoke out against the racial profiling law:

We must act now. We cant afford to wait any longer. Arizona reminds us of that. We wont let people divide us anymore. (via ClinicLegal)

Representative Luis Gutierrez, who introduced the legislation, drove home the urgency of the moment:

“The legislative clock is ticking,” stressed Gutierrez. “We know people are getting deported at the highest rate in modern history.”

Guttierez said the need for Congress to pass his plan is critical, especially with only one month to go before many provisions within the recently signed Arizona immigration law start to take effect. He called the Arizona law a call to action, and said a pragmatic solution must be found for what he referred to as a “broken system.” The Illinois Democrat added that he wants something passed before Congress recesses in August.

At the same time that members of Congress were escalating their push for immigration reform this year, some unlikely allies were publicly declaring their support for the measure. CEO’s of major corporations like Hewlett Packard, News Corp and Disney have joined forces with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

Mayor Bloomberg:

“I can’t think of any ways to destroy this country quite as direct and impactful as our immigration policy. We educate the best and the brightest, and then we don’t give them a green card.”

“It’s our great strength as a nation, and it’s also critical for continued economic growth,” Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Robert Iger said in a statement. “To remain competitive in the 21st century, we need effective immigration reform that invites people to contribute to our shared success by building their own American dream.”

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?”

VIDEO: How We Will Make Real Immigration Reform a Reality!

On Wednesday night, 60,000 people joined what was an incredible call to action on overhauling our nation’s broken immigration laws.

Today, we’re releasing a new video that features Congressman Luis Gutierrez unveiling his principles for reform in October, and which calls on all of us to help build the movement for real immigration reform:

We all know our immigration system needs fixing.

Immigration has been used as a wedge to obstruct progress on everything from the Stimulus to health care reformeven the 2010 Census. There are many skeptics out there who believe Congress doesn’t have what it takes to pass reform in 2010 – or that even if they have what it takes, they don’t have the nerve to do it.

But just last week, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reinforced the administration’s commitment to reform, laying out the details for why this push is different, and why we need to get it done.

What’s more, the national movement for real immigration reform is growing—and we are only getting bigger.

On Wednesday night, there were over 1,000 house parties in 45 states, with supporters gathered together anxiously to hear what they could do to help make reform a reality. All across the country, people are primed and ready to do whatever it takes to win this battle, and if you are not one of those people, now is the time to join the fight.

Watch our new video, sign up for the text message network, and help spread the word today.

In 2007, opponents of immigration reform took credit for stopping legislation in its tracks, overwhelming Congressional offices with a flood of angry phone calls and faxes. They took control of the debate and scared the pants off of vulnerable members of Congress.

This time around will be different, but it will take all of us to make real immigration reform a reality.

Immigration Reform and Numbers: Flexing Our Political Muscle

This week’s post from our guest blogger Robert Gittelson:

I, along with some 60,000 like minded comprehensive immigration reform advocates, attended one of the town hall parties last night. At the event that I was involved in, at CARECEN in Los Angeles, we numbered over 60 apt listeners, (and one of the featured speakers, Angelica Salas of CHIRLA). It was quite an uplifting and inspiring event. As updates were announced indicating the vast volume of listeners, you could see delighted and frankly surprised faces throughout our crowd. To say that we have momentum and that we are poised to advance the cause of CIR to victory could very well understate the facts on the ground. From the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign blog:

“There were 1,009 house parties in 45 states and Puerto Rico that gathered to join the town hall with Representative Luis Gutierrez. More than 60,000 people called in, joined house parties or listened to live radio broadcasts.”

While the content of the event was not so much news as it was a call to action, it is noteworthy that Rep. Gutierrez did promise to introduce his CIR bill in Congress sometime in December of this year.

It might be equally noteworthy to mention that Angelica Salas mentioned the startling fact that the “anti” e-mails and faxes to Congress outnumbered those of CIR proponents by 20-1, a fact which directly contributed to the failure of the bill in 2007. Much of the meeting centered around a discussion of how we plan to turn that figure around this time.

And yet, I must mention that while calls, faxes, texts, and e-mails are going to be hugely important in this fight, I want to caution my fellow advocates that there will be much more to a victorious strategy than the blunt instrument of overwhelming support from within.

Continue reading

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.

Family Unity: Bringing it to the Capitol.

Thousands call for immigration reform on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

Thousands call for immigration reform on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

This is cross-posted from the Reform Immigration FOR America blog. I will have some more thoughts tomorrow, but for now, I’m too tired for further analysis. You guys understand, right?

I just came from the event on the West Lawn of the Capitol and let me start by saying we brought some serious fire power to the doorstep of Congress today. I’m eager to hear an official count of folks there, but it was a large crowd. The energy was high and people were poised and ready for action. It was clear: we are sending a message to Congress and they must listen.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay for the full event – I was trying to live-tweet but getting less-than-stellar service on the West Lawn. A few quotes from the elected officals are below, courtesy of NAKSEC’s twitter account:

From Rep. Luis Gutierrez: it’s been a long journey. gutierrez said too many good things. he just did a shout out to community organizers

From Rep. Nydia Velazquez: this is not going to be easy. i know together we’ll get to the finish line

From Sen. Bob Menendez: moral and economic imperative to realize immigration reform. today we see family values

From Rep. Jared Polis (in Spanish): “un mejor futuro para todos los americanos.” (“A better future for all Americans!)

I will be posting all my pictures from the event soon. And will be keeping you informed of any new updates. In the mean time, check out the New York Times article that just dropped about today:

Thousands of immigrants came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a day of lobbying and an afternoon rally calling for comprehensive immigration reform.

Tuesday’s event was sponsored by various immigrant advocacy groups, including the Reform Immigration For America campaign, the National Capital Immigration Coalition, and Families United/Familias Unidas. It attracted convoys of buses, vans and cars carrying more than 3,000 protesters from at least 17 states.

Also, we are featured on the front page of the C-Span at the moment, with the promise of video footage to come!

Today has been a huge success and we are still going! Stay tuned for pictures and more updates!

FIRM Spotlight: CIRC turns out for the Family Unity Tour

CIRC familias unidas

On Saturday, the Famliy Unity tour made a stop in Northglenn, Colorado – one of 23 cities visited on the tour to date.   Our partners at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) helped organize turnout for the event. Over 1500 people gathered at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church to hear testimony from families who have suffered at the hands of our broken immigration system.

The Family Unity tour has brought together lawmakers, religious leaders, families and advocates in an unprecedented glimpse into the human side of the immigration debate.

At Saturday’s event, attendees heard testimony from (among others) a child whose father had been arrested, a mother who feared for the safety of her family and a teacher who has seen the future of bright students destroyed by the broken system.

U.S. Rep Jared Polis and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Immigration Task Force, were joined by Polis and Gutierrez were joined by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, the Revs. Greg Ames and Andrew Simpson, Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali and Rabbi Tirzah Firestone at the event, pushing for reform of a system that continues to separate children from parents and destroy families everyday.

“President Obama, you made a promise for comprehensive immigration reform, but in May you canceled a meeting and last Wednesday you canceled a meeting. You should cancel those orders of deportation, that’s what you should be canceling.

“It’s time we stop this immigration system that destroys families.”

You can find a  roundup of coverage below.

President Obama’s Latino Love Affair

si-se-puede1Today, Politico has a full-length article about the Obama administration’s courting of their most vital demographic – Latino voters. This is something that I’ve been blogging about since well before the election. Last November, Latinos turned out in record numbers to support the now-President Obama. Much of that support was based on his promise to push for immigration reform, a priority issue on the Latino community’s agenda.

In February, President Obama went on the El Piolin show (an outrageously popular Latino radio show hosted by El Piolin, Eduardo Sotelo) And last week, the administration invited Sotelo to the White House to have a sit-down conversation with the President.

“We need to be able to communicate through radio and obviously you’ve got the biggest listenership so we’ve got to make sure you’re involved,” Obama said in the interview.

The blossoming friendship between the administration and El Piolin is just the tip of the iceberg of the new inclusion of the Latino community. Latinos have been included in all major policy discussion since Obama took office. And many already feel the doors of opportunity being opened. The President has also visited Arizona (a border state with a high Latino population) twice in his time in office, including giving the commencement speech at Arizona State University last night.

However, as Luis Gutierrez, the Congressional leader on immigration reform puts it:

“He will ultimately be judged by the Hispanic community on what he does for the weakest and most vulnerable,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the veteran Chicago Democrat, referring to the issue on which he’s become a national leader, comprehensive immigration reform.

Obama has committed to immigraiton reform publicly – the story broke in April, with a HUGE response from advocates to support the gesture. He noted he would be making a public statement about reform sometime this May, though we are still waiting for this cue.

emanuel

Even Rahm Emanuel, who has been an opponent of previous reform bills, has acknowledged his support for reform. Rep. Gutierrez notes that Rahm, who is well-known for his shrewd and calculating politics, has to make good on reform if the administration wants to stay in good favor with Latino voters.

“If Rahm thinks he can get away with not doing anything on immigration and still have the support of Latino voters, it won’t get done,” said Gutierrez, who has had a long and at times contentious relationship with his fellow Chicago pol.

While there are certainly other issues on the docket for the Latino community, it seems that immigration reform is the most pressing and the most widely supported. The administration acknowledges it will be a tough battle to pass a reform bill, but as I’ve said before, it seems that the momentum for such a bill continues to grow by the day.

From Politico:

When Piolin asked Obama if he had the votes in Congress on immigration reform, the president was candid.

“Probably not yet,” he said

But when it comes time to rally support for the bill, Obama said he would need the talk show host’s help.
“You can count on me,” Piolin assured.

Family Unity Tour: Thousands gather in Orlando and Miami to call for Reform

On Saturday, a standing-room only crowd gathered at Pabellón de la Victoria, a Hispanic evangelical church south of Orlando, FL to call for immigration reform and family unity in the United States. Attendees, who included pastors from dozens of churches of various denominations, activists and local politicians, and many Latino community members, heard emotional testimonies from families who had been ripped apart by the current immigration system.

familias-unidas-orlando-21

A native-born United States citizen recounted the day he got a call from his frantic 7-year-old son telling him that police had taken his mother. The couple went on stage with their three boys — the Honduran woman still wearing an electronic ankle bracelet tracking her whereabouts. The husband, Robert Cote said:

“I am an American citizen, and I am a veteran of this country,” said Robert Cote, who fought with the U.S. Army in Operation Desert Storm. “I’m ashamed and I’m angry at the way Latino immigrants are treated in this country. … I fought in war for this country, and I’m going to fight this war for my family” and all immigrants.

Outside of the church gathering, our partners at the Florida Immigrant Coalition urged people to get involved in the same fight for immigration reform.

familias-unidas-orlando

The next day, in Miami, another large crowd gathered to hear more testimonies, including speeches by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (who is spearheading this 17-stop Family Unity tour). Diaz-Balart spoke out about the seperation of families and noted that taking parents away from their US-born children is not the right approach to immigration enforcement.

One woman, a United States citizen, sobbed as she told the story of her husband’s arrest. The testimonies at these events show that it is not just the immigrant community who is affected by the outdated immigration system – its everyone.