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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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office hoursFirst in Two Part Series: How the Immigration Movement Gained Strength in 2013 and Will Come Back Stronger in 2014

The movement in support of immigration reform has been growing in size and strength all year, capped by a strong show of moral force at the US Capitol yesterday.  Over one-thousand advocates and immigration supporters from across the country joined forces to simultaneously “shut down” 200 Congressional offices by holding in-office vigils calling for immigration reform.

Said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA in Action, one of the lead organizers behind yesterday’s action:

With our actions this week, we want to make sure that Congress gets the message.  That Republican Members of the House who have failed to fix one of America’s more serious crises must be held accountable. Every day, Speaker Boehner, that you delay reform, our movement grows stronger.

Continued pressure from advocates in DC and across the country all weeklong reinforced a key message to Republican House leadership as they prepare to head home for the holidays: immigration reform’s not going away.  Letter deliveries from children to House Republican offices and a human barricade at the door of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s local office drew attention far and wide.

Maria Elena Durazo, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor executive secretary-treasurer and national Chair of the AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee, who helped lead the eleven days of action in front of McCarthy’s office said:

There is an excitement among the advocates for immigration reform, coupled with successes we’ve seen in California–including the passage of the TRUST Act and of the driver’s license bill.  State legislative Republicans took out an ad asking Boehner to pass immigration reform now.  We have momentum, but we know that’s not enough.  We’re going to keep on keeping on.  There are some very vulnerable Republicans that are going to hear loud and clear what the cost of their inaction is.  If they’re going to listen to their Party’s position on immigration, they’re going to go down with their Party on immigration.

These actions along with the constant presence of advocates in the halls of Congress and the “Fasting for Families” tent on the National Mall has brought renewed inspiration and momentum to a movement that’s only growing stronger.

Said Rudy Lopez, Senior Organizer for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), who broke his 22-day fast yesterday:

Although my body had weakened, my spirit grew stronger over the course of the fast and I was fueled by prayers and those who are suffering under the broken immigration system whose voices need elevating. My fast was a small sacrifice to remind lawmakers they must ACT FAST on immigration reform that is compassionate, keeps families together, ends deportations and allows millions to become full-fledged Americans.

The actions from this week are a mere snapshot of an immigration movement that’s been active and powerful all year long.  See here for America’s Voice’s “2013: Year in Review” recap.

As Speaker Boehner and the rest of House Leadership have been “busy” delaying votes on immigration and holding over 40 repeal votes on the Affordable Care Act, millions of immigrant workers have been working hard to provide us with the food and products we need and cherish.  As a continuing part of our “Do Your Jobs” campaign, we’re showcasing the hard work done by  workers and business owners every day, while our “leaders” in Congress hold up action on immigration reform.  This week, we profiled Teresa Arredondo, a farmworker foreman in Bakersfield, CA.

On today’s call, she reminded Congress why immigration reform is so important for the safety of immigrant farmworkers and especially women:

I would like to see comprehensive immigration reform passed so that women who are often victims of labor and sexual abuse in the fields feel more comfortable reporting their abusers. Entire communities live in fear of the very authorities that claim to protect them. We need immigration reform for the sake of dignity and to continue the hard labor we do to move this country forward.

“We still have hope, we still have time and we have a movement that’s getting stronger every day,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “Declaring immigration dead is a prediction, not a fact, and our movement won’t take no for an answer.  We’re closing out 2013 strong, but we’re going to come back in 2014 even stronger.  Speaker Boehner and House Leadership would be wise to listen to our movement and the majorities of Americans that support reform, schedule a vote, and begin to repair the badly tarnished brand of the Republican Party.”

For recordings and resources from prior Office Hours calls, click here.