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Friday, October 16, 2009

Week of Events Reenergizes Push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

For Immediate Release
October 16, 2009

Shu Ohno, Reform Immigration FOR America
(202) 383-5983 or (202) 309-5645 mobile

From Sea to Shining Sea: Week of Events Reenergizes Push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Reform Immigration FOR Families: Family Unity Cannot Wait Events across the country unite families, clergy, veterans, and Members of Congress

Washington, DC - On Thursday night, October 15, a candle-light procession and vigil brought together over a thousand people from states up and down the west coast in Santa Clara, California. This event capped a week of vigils, processions, rallies, meetings, actions, and events in towns and cities across the country that renewed and reenergized the push for immigration reform in Washington DC.

The week began with events in places as far apart as El Paso, TX and Milwaukee, WI. In Grand Rapids and Detroit, MI, several hundred well-wishers rallied to offer support to over 160 faith leaders and families who boarded buses to travel to Washington, DC. Similar events took place in Philadelphia, Miami, West Palm Beach, Chicago, Greenville (NC), Richmond, Cleveland and Minneapolis. [For a list of events and contacts:]

On Tuesday, October 13, immigrant families gathered from around the country to join in a vigil and rally in front of the U.S. Capitol where Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) and other elected officials launched a new push for comprehensive immigration reform in response to a fierce urgency displayed by immigrant and Latino voters. [Photographs from the event:]

Under the banner of 'Reform Immigration FOR Families: Family Unity Cannot Wait,' more than 750 people traveled to Washington on buses from up and down the Eastern seaboard and as far away as Texas, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, and Michigan. They spent Tuesday morning meeting with Congressional offices before being joined by thousands of people from the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area who gathered on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in the afternoon to listen to testimonies from families, veterans, and children who face family disintegration because of immigration laws and deportation. The event was led by clergy, local media celebrities, and immigrant community leaders and was sponsored by the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign, the National Capital Immigration Coalition, and Families United/Familias Unidas.

The lawmakers who joined Representative Gutierrez on stage included Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairman Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Congressional Black Caucus Member Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), and Delegate Gregorio Sablan (Mariana Islands).

Rep. Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, helped organize the Families United/Familias Unidas tour earlier this year, a series of vigils and community gatherings to highlight how families are affected by U.S. immigration laws. The bill Rep. Gutierrez is preparing will be designed to address the problems faced by families attending today's event in Washington. [Principles outlined by Congressman Gutierrez:]


"We need a bill that says if you come here to hurt our communities, we will not support you; but if you are here to work hard and to make a better life for your family, you will have the opportunity to earn your citizenship. We need a law that says it is un-American for a mother to be torn from her child, and it is unacceptable to undermine our workforce by driving the most vulnerable among us further into the shadows."

Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
"We have a broken immigration system that is taking a toll on our families, communities and congregations. Faith and fundamental principles of justice call upon all of us to respond. From communities across the country, we call upon President Obama and congressional leaders to lead this country to comprehensive immigration reform."

Most Reverend Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Bishop of the Phoenix Episcopal Area, Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church Representative
"Immigrant communities have heard the promises and the campaign speeches, but now we want action to go with the words. Representative Gutierrez and the other Members of Congress who are standing up with him get it. The community will support those who support us as we seek our piece of the American Dream. We are here to help make that dream a reality."

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA de Maryland, Inc.
"Immigration reform is too often discounted as just another political issue by some in Washington, but to immigrants and millions more who share this country with them, it a deeply personal issue of keeping families together. Congress must respond in a manner that holds true to our values as a nation. Today, several important Members of Congress have laid down a path toward getting this done. Expectations that President Obama and Congress will fix what is broken about our current immigration system run high and time is ticking until the next election. Congressional leaders who step up and craft bills to move us forward understand the urgency for action and the need to uncork the gridlock that has prevented progress for years.

Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum, one of the groups leading the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign
"The immigration system needs to be changed so that other families never go through what I am going through. My husband's wishes of having our child raised in the U.S. are being denied by a broken system. The pain I have been going through is no way to honor my husband for all he did for his country."

Hotaru Ferschke (joined by mother-in-law Robin Ferschke and son Mikey at the event) of Maryville, Tennessee, was born in Japan and married U.S. Marine Michael Ferschke who was killed in Iraq one month before the arrival their son Mikey. She is not allowed to stay in the U.S. because of a technicality: their marriage was not "consummated" in the eyes of the U.S. immigration law after their ceremony.

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ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN: The Reform Immigration FOR America campaign is a coalition of more than 600 faith, labor, business, progressive, and immigration reform groups that have joined together to get comprehensive immigration reform passed. For more information please visit or

CAUSA, Oregon's Immigrant Rights Coalition, is a member of the Reform Immigration For America coalition and is the largest Latino and Latina civil and human rights and advocacy organization in the Pacific Northwest. We work to defend and advance immigrant rights through coordination with local, state, and national coalitions and allies. For more information, visit



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