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Alliance for Citizenship Launches New Campaign to Win Citizenship for 11 Million Immigrants

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a4cAs momentum builds each day for immigration reform, leaders announced today a new national campaign designed to support a rapidly growing movement for immigration reform.  On a conference call with reporters, national leaders from the newly formed Alliance for Citizenship (A4C) laid out the principles and action plan to win a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

Speakers also announced the Power Up for Citizenship! week of action to urge Congress to move quickly on a bill that offers a direct path for citizenship, with a process that takes years, not decades.  As part of the week of action, events will be held in states around the country, including the home states of “Gang of Eight” Senators who are currently working on draft legislation and feature leaders from Latino, Asian, and immigrant communities, as well as labor, faith and business leaders.

In addition to the in-state events happening this week, leader from the Alliance for Citizenship addressed the scope of the campaign, including upcoming activities:

  • Spanish Language Ad Campaign this Week: The $250,000 ad, “The Power,” runs today through Sunday — during the congressional recess — in media markets across the U.S. This first ad by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), in partnership with Alliance For Citizenship coalition partners, marks the start of a multi-week, multi-pronged media and field campaign to win congressional enactment of commonsense immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.
  • Petitions for Citizenship: The Alliance for Citizenship and its partners collected 300,000 petitions in February from supporters around the country calling for direct path to citizenship. Petitions were delivered to Senate’s Judiciary Committee during last week’s hearing.
  • State Events this Week: Over the course of this week, eight events are happening  —  in Illinois, New York, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Texas and New Jersey — to push key Senators to introduce a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship by March. During this recess, groups will also hold dozens of legislative visits with key members of Congress in their home districts.
  • National Bus Tour: The launch is comprised of a 19 state bus tour in over 80 cities that will put families front and center in many different communities and pushing on Congress to keep families united.  This will take place between Feb 25th- March 12th.
    • The regions include Southwest, Northwest, Mountain West, Great Lakes, New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast
    • The 19 states participating include CA, AZ, NV, OR, WA, ID, MO, CO, WI, IL, MI, OH, NH, MA, CO, RI, NY, FL, NC
  • 1 Million Calls to Congress: The Alliance for Citizenship will host a nationwide drive for calls to Congress, generating 1 million call for reform in mid-March.
  • Faith Events Around Easter Recess: The A4C campaign will work with member organizations to organize vigils, actions and legislative visits and actions in over 20 states during Congress’ Easter Recess.
  • Immigration March on Washington:  On April 10th, tens of thousands of immigration reform supporters will gather in Washington D.C. to ask Congress to support a roadmap to citizenship and pass a bill quickly.

Sue Chinn, Campaign Manager of the Alliance for Citizenship,  “After mobilizing at unprecedented levels to support pro-immigrant candidates and oppose those who demonized their families and communities, Latino, Asian, and other immigrant voters want and expect action on this important priority.  That’s why we’re launching the Alliance for Citizenship.  Working with labor, immigrant, community, and faith-based organizations, this new, progressive campaign is designed to seize this moment and ensure that real immigration reform passes though the finish line in 2013.”

“Latino voters created a game-changing moment for immigration, an issue that has always galvanized us,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR.  “With the moral, economic and political imperatives now aligned behind immigration reform, Congress has a real opportunity to deliver a workable and fair solution, and we want them to act.”

The campaign kick-off includes the first national Spanish language radio ad that speaks to the power of the Latino community that will influence the upcoming debate on Capitol Hill.

Said Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) about the new ad campaign: “Today, we begin the first phase of a Spanish language radio ad campaign that will air across the U.S. The message to Congress in the ad is very simple: The critical voices of Latinos who helped deliver a mandate for commonsense immigration reform in November’s election are going to keep raising their voices as Congress begins the debate.  Latinos did not go to the polls expecting that our ‘abuelitas’ our grandmothers, our parents, brothers and sisters and our coworkers would be relegated to second-class status. We expect Congress to pass a bill that includes a fair, clear and direct path to citizenship.”

Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, “When our legal system tolerates the creation of a modern-day caste system, democracy itself is compromised. For that reason, a clear, fair, and workable path to citizenship must lie at the heart of the effort. This is the same principle that has guided every civil and human rights movement throughout our nation’s history – and that is that people who work hard to make our country a better place, and who are willing to play by the rules, deserve to be treated fairly and to have an equal chance to share in the American Dream.”

Melissa Maniau, board member of the Florida Immigrant Coalition and also a veteran who is married to an undocumented immigrant shared her own family’s struggle with the broken immigration system, and said, “In Florida we have been reaching out to every single one of our members of Congress, especially Senator Rubio, asking them to say yes to their constituents and say yes to a new immigration system that keeps our families together. Senator Rubio has the unique opportunity to represent Latino families in Florida; 800,000 Floridians have been waiting decades for the same opportunity his own family had. Had Rubio’s parents faced deportation, he would not have been where he is right now. That’s why we have met personally with him in several occasions and have directed hundreds of call and emails to his office. We expect Senator Rubio to say yes to Florida’s families and yes to a real path to citizenship.”

Rev. John McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service. added, “The time for congressional action is now. We rejoice that there is bipartisan agreement to move forward, and we pray that the Senate introduces an immigration bill in early March and moves swiftly and with resolve to prove that they can work together to solve issues important to this nation.”

Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, said, “Any enforcement measures should adhere to our core values of ensuring an even playing field for everyone. Real and meaningful solutions is not about piece-milling the debate, nor about false choices between workers and their families, nor about an enforcement triggered path to earned citizenship. The time for debating was over last November. Let’s get to the people’s business today.”

In addition to the speakers on today’s call, leaders from partner organizations involved in the A4C campaign are also sharing their thoughts on today’s launch.

Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, expressed the moral imperative behind A4C: “Immigrant families are being torn apart in record numbers.  The moral tragedy that is our broken immigration system can only be addressed with a path to citizenship for those without papers. We stand with all members of this alliance FOR CITIZENSHIP now.”

“South Asians encounter every aspect of our country’s broken immigration system, and experience the long waiting periods to be reunited with family members, lack of job mobility, and the fear of deportation,” said Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). “SAALT joins the Alliance for Citizenship because we are committed to humane and sensible solutions to fix our nation’s immigration laws and systems.”

“Achieving a fair and equitable immigration reform has been PCUN’s highest priority over that past dozen years because we believe that reform that includes a path to citizenship for the eleven million will be a tide that will lift not only farmworkers and immigrants, but our country’s economy, our country’s commitment to strong families, and our country’s long-term security,” Ramón Ramírez, President of PCUN Oregon’s Farmworker Union.

“Today’s launch is just more evidence of the diverse and growing support behind immigration reform that includes citizenship for the 11 million,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.  “There are bipartisan groups working in both chambers of Congress, and the President is also making this a top priority.  It is looking more and more likely that immigration reform with citizenship for the 11 million Americans in waiting will become law this year.”

About the Alliance for Citizenship:

The Alliance for Citizenship (A4C) is a new progressive campaign to win citizenship for 11 million Americans-in-waiting who are living in the United States today. The campaign was designed to seize this moment, working with labor, immigration, community, and faith-based organizations, activists, and immigrants to pass major immigration legislation in Congress in 2013.

Current A4C members include: National Immigration Law Center; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles; National Immigration Forum; Center for Community Change; Center for American Progress; America’s Voice/America’s Voice Education Fund; National Council of La Raza; Service Employees International Union; The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations; United Farm Workers; Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Church World Service; American Immigration Council/Immigration Policy Center; CASA de Maryland; Asian American Justice Center; United Food and Commercial Workers; PCUN/CAUSA in Oregon; Rights Working Group; Border Network for Human Rights; Southern Poverty Law Center; American Immigration Lawyers Association; OneAmerica; and South Asian Americans Leading Together.

More groups are joining the Alliance for Citizenship every week. For more information, please visit www.allianceforcitizenship.org.