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June 1 Immigrant Rights Rally and Press Conference Across the Country

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    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2009
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      June 1 Immigrant Rights Rally and Press Conference Across the Country
      On June 1st, 43 rally and press conference across the United States as Reform Immigration for America, www.reformimmigrationForAmerica.org a coalition of 198 local and federal organizations, began a campaign calling for a comprehensive immigration policy reform. About 750 people representing these groups plan to meet in Washington DC later this week to craft a unified reform plan.

      Boston, MA: Groups push for US immigration reform


      BOSTON — New England immigrant advocates are launching a second campaign for comprehensive reform, vowing the time is ripe for the federal government to enact measures that failed to pass Congress two years ago.

      "It is different this time," said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. With a new president, a "more progressive" Congress and a "broader, stronger and more unified" coalition of immigration reform advocates, the stage is set for reform that will create a path to citizenship for the country's estimated 12 million undocumented workers, Millona said.

      She spoke Monday during a press conference at Boston City Hall, where posters in the conference room called for "Reform Not Raids." The event, which was attended by immigrant advocates from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, was part of a nationwide launch of the Campaign to Reform Immigration for America, a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund.

      As part of the campaign, hundreds of immigrant advocates are headed to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby Congress in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The three-day lobbying drive precedes a meeting at the White House Monday, at which President Barack Obama is expected to discuss immigration reform with members of Congress.

      Millona said her group and others want the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation this fall.

      During the press conference, Bob Hildreth, a Boston philanthropist and investment banker, said immigrant advocates "were not ready" two years ago when federal immigration officials raided the Michael Bianco Inc. factory in New Bedford on March 6, 2007.

      "They surprised us on that cold morning in New Bedford," he said.

      Hildreth paid bail for many of the Bianco workers who were detained in Texas, allowing them to return to New Bedford to see their families and access legal assistance. He is the executive director of the immigrant advocacy group, Foundation for an Open America, and is chairman of the National Immigrant Bond Fund, which helps detained immigrants post bond.

      In the two years since the Bianco raid, immigrant advocacy groups have raised a lot of money and become more organized, Hildreth said.

      "We are ready," he said "We have all kinds of boots on the ground, all over the country."

      U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., said in a statement he believed the country was "10 steps closer to reform than we were a year ago."

      He called for an end to immigration policy debate that is "fueled by fear."

      "It's time that we turn down the volume, come together and pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for immigrants who are already part of our communities, more sensible temporary worker programs to fill our country's labor needs and smart, tough, humane enforcement of our laws," he said.

      An overhaul of the nation's immigration laws will require 218 votes in the House, 60 votes in the Senate and Obama's signature, according to the Campaign to Reform Immigration for America.

      Los Angeles, CA: Hundreds demonstrate in Los Angeles for U.S. immigration reform

      LOS ANGELES, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of people demonstrated Monday in Los Angeles as part of a nationwide campaign to push for U.S. legislation to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants.

      Carrying signs that read "Economic Recovery Includes Immigration Reform," the demonstrators marched from the Our Lady Queen of Angels church to City Hall in downtown Los Angeles, where they held a rally calling for an immigration reform that they said would benefit all citizens.

      The rally was one of 43 held across the United States as Reform Immigration for America, a coalition of 198 local and federal organizations, began a campaign calling for a comprehensive immigration policy reform, organizers said.

      The demonstrators said they wanted U.S. lawmakers to pass laws to legalize undocumented immigrants, reform visa programs to keep families together, support the rights of all workers and go after employers who violate immigration and labor laws.

      Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles, said that the campaign "promotes immigration reform that actually promotes economic opportunity for all."

      Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti joined the demonstrators in their call to action.

      "For a stronger economy, we will not get out of the situation we are in unless we include everybody in the recovery that we see before us," Garcetti told the crowd

      Oregon Leaders Mark Beginning of Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America
      Today (6/1) Leaders from CAUSA , PCUN, Rural Organizing Project, Mujeres Luchadores Progresistas and the Oregon Association of Nurseries held a press briefing at the Oregon State Capitol to discuss the National Campaign to pass fair and just Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year.

      As momentum continues to build nationwide in support of passage of fair and just immigration reform, a delegation from Oregon will go to Washington D.C this week to attend the largest convening of immigration reform advocates and allies of the year. The Summit will mark the beginning of the campaign to secure a common sense approach that gives the hard working men and women already here an earned path to citizenship, keeps families together and provides legal avenues for future workers.

      During Today's press briefing, members of Oregon's delegation provided updates on the national campaign and what CAUSA and our allies are doing within the state to further the nationwide effort to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

      Chicago: Immigrant rights leaders launch national campaign for reform

      CHICAGO — A broad coalition of Illinois immigrant rights groups, community organizations, elected officials, faith, labor and business leaders launched a Reform Immigration For America national campaign here June 1.

      Dozens of leaders made the announcement at a mid-day press conference at the historic Jane Addams Hull House at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s campus. The Hull House, led by Jane Addams, was an organizing center and home to immigrant families in the early 1900s.

      The new national campaign will promote what the leaders call a comprehensive legislative approach to make immigration laws work to serve the needs of American working families.

      “We are launching this campaign at the site of Jane Addams Hull House, because today we need our leaders to show the same courage and creativity as Jane Addams, our first American woman Nobel Peace Prize winner, in recognizing the contributions of immigrants to our nation and to the state of Illinois,” said Juan Salgado, board president of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights and executive director of the Institute for Latino Progress.

      “What Americans want across the country, and what we all want here in Illinois is a workable, practical solution that brings working families out of the shadows, that’s fair to everyone, and helps lift our economy out of this crisis,” said Salgado.

      “The immigration laws are badly in need of repair, and we deserve a system that works and benefits all Americans,” he said. This is a top priority that must be addressed this year, he added.

      Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said it’s not right that families continue to be split up due to broken immigration laws. “We need to do what is right and fair and just for all Americans by passing immigration reform,” said Quigley. “In the end America has always done the right thing.”

      Gustavo Garcia-Siller, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago and leader of the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform, said an interfaith coalition of Catholic, Muslim, evangelical and Jewish groups support the drive.

      “Each and every human being deserves respect and should be entitled to the freedoms of citizenship,” he said. “The poor and disenfranchised deserve a just and compassionate path to citizenship.”

      “The broken laws divide our families, shut down businesses and are tearing apart communities,” the bishop said. “This needs to be the year for change, and we are here united in passion for freedom.”

      Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court Dorothy Brown called for “humanitarian policies that includes the legalization of immigrants and the rights of undocumented labor.” She noted that living conditions for all Americans and especially immigrants became worse under the eight years of the Bush administration. The legalization of immigrant workers will increase wages and restore our rule of law, she added, declaring, “We want Congress and President Obama to know that we are ready for immigration reform in America.”

      Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor Jorge Ramirez said he knows what it’s like growing up in an immigrant household. “I am the son of immigrant parents from Mexico and I am a product of the Chicago labor movement,” he said. “The outdated immigration system abuses working families and perpetuates a vulnerable underclass in America.”

      Undocumented workers are often not paid the minimum wage and many work in unsafe conditions, he said. “Yet they cannot stand up for their basic labor rights. Bringing undocumented workers into the system will protect them from exploitation, and all workers will benefit. We call on the Obama administration to follow through with their campaign commitments” on this issue.

      Alie Kabba, executive director of the United African Organization, said, “Chinese, Korean, Irish, Polish, Muslim, Latinos, Arab, Africans and others are all here for a simple truism, if it’s broken, then fix it.” Kabba added, “We cannot pretend there are no problems because thousands of wives and husbands are being picked up and many of them have U.S. born children.”

      Mary Meg McCarthy of the National Immigration Justice Center said reforming immigration laws must include ensuring legal counsel and adequate health care for immigrants in the country’s 500 detention centers. She said immigration officials detain up to 400,000 men, women and children each year. Since 2003, 90 people have died in immigration custody, she said. “It is time to fix a detention system that violates people’s human rights.”

      Executive Director of Centro Sin Fronteras (Center Without Borders) Emma Lozano said no issue is more important than family unity in our communities. “When immigrant families are criminalized then we are all criminalized,” said Lozano. “Today we say ‘ya basta’ (enough) to the separation of families.”

      Javier Salas, a Spanish DJ with Univision Radio, told the reporters, “Spanish radio supports reform. We are ready to mobilize once again to reach millions in order to get our message across.”

      The news conference here was part of a weeklong series of events, including 37 other local campaign launch press events in 20 states. Leaders from across the country plan to convene at a national summit in Washington June 3-5, bringing together 800 grassroots advocates representing more than 35 states. A national town hall meeting is scheduled on Capitol Hill June 4. Leaders here said a delegation of over 70 will head to the nation’s capital to participate.

      Those who want to learn more about the campaign and how to get involved are being encouraged to sign up at www.reformimmigrationForAmerica.org.


      Denver: Immigrant-rights activists kick off campaign

      By Josh Ezpinoza

      There's a painfully obvious division within the Denver population that's attributable to a broken immigration system, says Julie Gonzales, political coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

      "A lot of people within the immigrant community feel like they have to separate themselves -- like they have to hide. And on the other side, there are a lot of misconceptions, confusion and false information about immigrants that a lot of people believe," she says. "So, that's why we're here getting the facts out to everyone and informing them about what's really going on."

      Gonzales, who joined the coalition in 2005, was one of many activists who occupied the west steps at the state Capitol yesterday to launch the Reform Immigration for America campaign, which is touring 22 cities nationwide. The goal is to fix the system "through a comprehensive legislative approach."

      Gonzales believes there should be a "more efficient path to citizenship," and that workers' rights are enforced at the federal level. "Thankfully, Congress is finally taking positive action and helping us to reform the system," she says.

      On Saturday, June 13, Congressman Jared Polis will unite with Archbishop Charles Chaput and Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez to encourage support and involvement in immigration reform. The event, which begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Northglenn, will give Americans the opportunity to share stories of how they've been negatively impacted by the current immigration system.

      "Immigrants aren't the only people who are being affected," Gonzales says. "We're all being affected by it, which is why we're doing this: to get help and to get support."


      Las Vegas: Immigration Advocates Hold Rally

      KXNT Radio Inc.


      The Lloyd George Federal Building was the site of an immigration rally yesterday. The event was one of 40 that were held in 20 states around the country by Reform Immigration for America, which seeks immigration reform. Peter Ashman, chairman of the Nevada chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told those gathered that throwing more money on Homeland Security to remove undocumented workers is too costly, not workable and un-American. The campaign comes as President Obama plans to meet on June 8th with members of Congress to discuss immigration reform.


      Pittsburgh: Rally held here for immigration reform
      Tuesday, June 02, 2009

      About two dozen members of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network rallied outside the federal building on Grant Street yesterday to advocate for national immigration reform.

      The rally here was to coincide with more than a dozen across the country yesterday as groups push Congress to implement what they believe is necessary, comprehensive reform.

      "Families are broken, and people are being treated unjustly," said Scott Fabean, the vice president of the local group, which includes approximately 40 congregations and organizations throughout the area. "We feel it is a moral issue. God commands us to care for the alien."

      Jacqueline B. Martinez, a local immigration attorney, said that complete reform includes border security.

      "The government can close the borders -- that's its right," she said. But, she continued, it's essential to do something for the people who are already here that have built families -- including children born as American citizens.

      Ms. Martinez believes that with the Obama administration in place, the time is right for immigration reform. She is hopeful that it will take into consideration employers, schools, families and social services.

      "This is the big white elephant in the room people have to deal with. You can't ignore it any longer."

      Sister Janice Vanderneck of the Sisters of St. Joseph has worked in Latino social services for Catholic Charities for six years.

      "I have seen so many families broken through deportation," she said.

      Sister Janice believes that, under President Obama and with the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, there's a real chance immigration reform will pass this year.

      She does not believe illegal immigrants are taking jobs from American citizens. Instead, she argues that they work jobs most Americans don't want.

      "The immigrants of today are no different than the immigrants of yesterday," said Gabe Morgan, the director of the Service Employees International Union Local 32 BJ. "Every person has the right to work. Every person should have the right to provide for their families."

      San Diego Activists Part of Nationwide Immigration Reform Effort

      Immigrants rights activists gathered at San Diego County's Administration building Monday to call for comprehensive immigration reform. AS KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson reports the gathering is part of a nationwide immigration reform campaign.

      About two dozen people representing various religious, labor and immigrants rights groups got together to tell Congress and President Barack Obama its time to fix the nation's immigration system.

      Estella de los Rios is with the San Diego Immigrants Rights Consortium.

      She says creating a process for undocumented immigrants to become United States citizens tops the agenda.

      "To come out of the shadows and have the opportunity to be good citizens and contribute to the economy because they already contribute. Seven-billion alone is contributed to the social security system."

      Immigrants rights activists gathered in 39 cities nationwide.

      About 750 people representing these groups plan to meet in Washington DC later this week to craft a unified reform plan.

      President Obama plans to discuss immigration with members of Congress early next week.


      Atlanta: 25 on hand to launch immigration reform effort

      By The Associated Press
      ATLANTA - Immigrant rights advocates on Monday launched the Georgia arm of the national "Reform Immigration FOR America" campaign.

      About 25 representatives from labor, faith, business and immigrants' rights community groups attended the launch on the steps of the Capitol.

      The Georgia effort is part of a national campaign to urge lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Similar local launches are scheduled in more than 30 other cities Monday. A three-day national campaign summit is set to start Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

      Lincoln, NE: Advocates call for 'humane' immigration reform


      LINCOLN -- About two dozen people -- advocates for immigrants, academics and religious leaders, gathered at the State Capitol on Monday to call for "humane and rational" immigration reform.

      Simultaneous news conferences were held in Lincoln and Omaha, part of a national campaign to highlight immigration.

      Darcy Tromanhauser, director of immigrant integration and civic participation for the Nebraska Appleseed Center, said it's was an effort to highlight the issue in advance of a June 8 meeting between President Obama and congressional leaders on immigration issues.

      She said advocates are hopeful that comprehensive immigration legislation will be developed yet this year.

      "There's a real posiblity of federal reform," she said. "There's a real moment of opportunity, we can't afford to wait any longer to fix this broken system."

      Pointing out that it's virtually impossible for low- or moderately skilled workers to legally immigrate into the United States, Tromanhauser said the nation needs to enact immigration policies that will allow foreign workers a legal avenue to immigrate.

      "Those who say immigrants should go back and get in line to immigrate don't realize there simply isn't a line to get into," she said. "There's no place to sign up. If you think there's a functioning, legal path to get into this country, you're missing a key piece of information."

      Hendrick Van Den Berg, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln economist who studies immigration and international economies, said immigration, although it has some negative impacts, is a net boon to the economy. He said the U.S. can afford to grant amnesty to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now living in the U.S.

      He said giving them legal status would prevent employers from exploiting them with sub-par wages and benefits -- and give low-skilled legal residents of the U.S. a chance to compete for those jobs.
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