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Yesterday I went to witness the launch of the Reform Immigration For America campaign at the National Press Club.
Momentum is building for comprehensive immigration reform, and speakers from NCLR, NAACP, SEIU/Change To Win, AFL-CIO, AAJC, CHIRLA, and many other organizations described a clear and bipartisan effort building to fix our broken immigration system.
According to Deepak Bhargava, of the Center for Community Change:
The launch of the campaign is coupled with a Reform Immigration For America summit taking place in DC this week (Angelica Salas, head of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, is pictured above, speaking at the summit).
Pro-migrant bloggers who write at The Sanctuary/promigrant.org are in town to document the coming together of 800 activists from all over the country, who are ready to get this reform done. Bloggers from Citizen Orange and VivirLatino are not only blogging, but tweeting the conference, here.
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement has people live-blogging and posting stories on their Standing FIRM blog:
It was a two-hour long event, but I want to focus on a few things that stand out for me.
The first was the testimony given by Robert Cote, a US Citizen and a War Veteran. Robert is married to a woman from Honduras and the couple lives in Florida with their two children. He told the story of his sister-in-law, who was involved in a domestic dispute with her boyfriend. The sister-in-law was bloodied and bruised and the police were called. When Robert’s wife began helpfully interpreting for the policeman, being sure they understood her sister’s testimony of the horrific violence, the police paid no attention to the beaten woman and immediately seized on Robert’s wife, asking her to prove her citizenship and grilling her for proof she was in the country legally. After producing her passport and graciously complying with police, a removal order from years prior showed up on her record and she was arrested. A wife and a mother of two, whose crime was helping law enforcement to make her community safer, was held in prison for 9 days with no charges. Eventually, the family fought the case and his wife’s trial is still progressing.
What struck me about Robert’s testimony was not only the injustice faced by the family, but it was also something he said. “When someone is taken away from a family, it is not just that person who suffers. Its everyone.” Before his testimony, Rep. Mike Honda talked about how families (in all their many forms) are the very fabric of society. Together, families can do so much more than individuals – buy a house, invest in their comunity – and when you destroy families you are destroying America.
I think Robert’s family, who is still awaiting to hear its fate – is a perfect example of why immigraiton reform is as urgent as ever.
Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, could not have put it any better at the launch:
It’s not enough to talk about family values when you don’t value families.
America’s Voice is proud to be a part of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign, standing up for families and one step closer to the reform our country so urgently needs.