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Family of Immigrant New Yorkers Meets With Hillary Clinton at National Immigration Conference

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This is the press release from Make The Road New York about today’s DAPA Dinner with Hillary Clinton

Suarez Family Excited to Meet With Secretary Clinton, Encourages Her to Be a Champion for Immigration Relief and Undocumented Families

Brooklyn, NY (December 14th, 2015) — On Monday afternoon, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met with members of an immigrant family from Long Island before addressing a 1,300-person crowd at the National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) in Brooklyn. The members of this family, the Suarez family, have different immigration statues; one is a US citizen, two have temporary immigration relief because they are DREAMers, one of the parents has Temporary Protected Status, and one is undocumented and would benefit from President Obama’s stalled immigration relief. The family includes parents Osman and Jonaly and daughters Marcy, Claritza, and Angie, all of whom are members of Make the Road New York.

The family shared its story with Secretary Clinton and encouraged her to advance a strong platform to protect undocumented immigrants and their families.  They asked Secretary Clinton to remember their family story and to share it on the campaign trail to push back against rhetoric that criminalizes and dehumanizes immigrant and refugee communities. The NIIC, where the meeting and Secretary Clinton’s subsequent address occurred, is the nation’s preeminent immigration conference and was organized by the National Partnership for New Americans, New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road New York, and Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

In their meeting with Secretary Clinton, the Suarez family highlighted the hard struggle of leaving Honduras for greater safety and opportunity and settling on Long Island, where they have faced many challenges because of their immigration status, most notably the fear of family separation. They asked Secretary Clinton to prioritize and expand immigration relief if elected, and to commit to dismantling the nation’s out-of-control immigration enforcement apparatus. The conversation came as part of a nationwide “DAPA Dinner” campaign that America’s Voice, Center for Community Change Action/Fair Immigration Reform Movement and United We Dream Action and state and local groups have spearheaded with 2016 candidates and Members of Congress, to ensure that immigration relief and a path to citizenship for immigrant families remain at the center of our national conversation. Local and national groups see the meeting as an important step by Secretary Clinton and look forward to further public engagement between Clinton and immigrant families.

Angie Suarez, the family’s youngest daughter and a US citizen and a Make the Road New York Youth Power Project member, said: “I’m proud to have been able to share my family’s experiences with Secretary Clinton and ask her to stand up for millions of U.S.-citizen young people like me who live in fear of losing our parents.  The only thing that’s different between my parents and sisters and me is a piece of paper—it scares me when I realize that just a piece of paper could mean that we’re separated from one another one day. My parents would be able to apply for immigration relief if the program could start, but that hasn’t happened yet. I hope that listening to our story will help Hillary Clinton make families like mine a top priority in this campaign and if she is elected.

Osman Suarez, undocumented father of three daughters and Make the Road New York member, who came to this country after fleeing violence and natural disaster (Hurricane Mitch) in his native Honduras, said, “My family is my life. I came to this country to be able to raise my daughters with the safety and opportunities they deserve. But, for years, we have lived with the fear of having our family separated. I can’t imagine the pain of not being able to see my beautiful daughters every day. In 2014, I rejoiced when President Obama announced executive action to prevent families like mine from being separated, but the Republican lawsuit against the program has prevented us from applying. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet with Secretary Clinton today and share our family’s story. We hope that the stories of families like ours will encourage her to be a champion of DACA and DAPA and commit to defending the dignity and humanity of undocumented immigrants and stand against laws that criminalize us.”

Marcy Suarez, undocumented youth member of Make the Road New York Youth Power Project who has benefited from President Obama’s DACA policy and has organized young people to fight for immigrants’ rights, noted: “Since 2012, I have had temporary protection to be able to remain with my family because of DACA. But today my family told Secretary Clinton that we need more. We need DAPA now, and we need expanded relief to protect as many undocumented families as possible. Over the past three years, I have registered hundreds of voters in immigrant communities on Long Island to make sure that those of us who are eligible to vote make our voices heard at the polls. This election, immigrants are going to do just that. I thank Secretary Clinton for hearing us out.”

Kica Matos, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice, Center for Community Change Action, and Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) spokesperson, said: “We are very pleased that Secretary Clinton met today with an immigrant family from Make the Road New York, a member the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, to discuss relief for immigrants and immigration reform. The Suarez family spoke to Secretary Clinton of their struggles and sacrifices to provide better lives for their family and families like theirs and we are certain she will remember their stories. Secretary Clinton has embraced keeping families together in their adopted country while they work to become full-fledged citizens and FIRM looks forward to more engagement with her and impacted immigrant families. These stories and experiences make up the fabric of our country and we hope they provide Secretary Clinton with more insight regarding her policies on immigration.”

Josh Hoyt, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), said, “NPNA is pleased to host an event that is facilitating Secretary Clinton’s meeting with a family–one of millions–who could benefit from her leadership on immigration reform and immigrant integration.”

Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, co-host for the 8th annual National Immigrant Integration Conference, said, “We are delighted to have Secretary Hillary Clinton join us at NIIC to address over 1,300 attendees from across the country who are eager to find solutions to some of the key integration issues facing America’s immigrant communities today. This year’s NIIC in New York will help influence major policy decisions heading into 2016. Engaging with Presidential candidates like Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley, and Senator Sanders at this year’s NIIC is vital to ensuring the future of immigrant integration.”