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Press Statement: “Family Unity Cannot Wait” Procession and Rally: Faith Leaders and Families Urge Congress and Obama Administration to Take on Immigration System Overhaul

By October 14, 2009No Comments

“Family Unity Cannot Wait” Procession and Rally

October 13, 2009

Press Contacts:
Jorge-Mario Cabrera, (562) 243-5559
Vanessa Aramayo, (818) 632-5501
Korean: Yongho Kim, (323) 244-5309

Immigration Reform Will Protect Families and Communities and Restore Fairness to Broken System: Faith leaders and families urge Congress and Obama Administration to take on immigration system overhaul

Los Angeles – Under banners that read “faith”, “family”, “unity”, and “accountability”, immigrant families and faith, business, labor, and community leaders marched today and staged a rally in front of the Kenneth Hahn administration Building downtown Los Angeles. Participants called on Congress, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and other members of the Obama Administration to deliver on their promise of change and get to work on a just and humane immigration reform bill that can ease the suffering of many. Concurrently, communities in major immigrant hubs in the United States such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Detroit, Seattle, San Jose, and Minneapolis, held similar gatherings.

“People of faith across America wonder how long our communities will have to suffer under the current broken immigration system. We applaud the leadership of Representative Gutierrez as we move forward on comprehensive reform this year,” stated Jared Rivera, executive director for LA Voice-PICO. Rep. Gutierrez will join families in Washington on October 13 and share his legislation principles with them.

But it is the plight of entire families that took center stage during the march. Two families, one Latina and one Filipino, were invited to share their stories with the crowd. Both said that faith keeps them strong and that they trust and believe that the U.S. government will do the right thing for our economy, workers, and families. They pray a solution comes soon before they have to lose more loved ones to raids, detention, and deportations. “Our families are the pillars of strength and the glue that holds together our community as well as any other community across this nation. What we ask is that Congress moves forward on a practical and realistic solution to the broken immigration system that is tearing our families apart. Based on last year’s elections, we know Americans care about their families, neighbors, co-workers, and parishes impacted by the lack of action on this important issue,” stated Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

EunSook Lee, executive director of National Korean American Services and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) added: “Every day, a child wonders if she will ever see her parents again and parents worry about whether they will make it home tonight. 10% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are undocumented and thousands have waited for decades to be reunited with their loved ones. In detention centers across the country, countless others are languishing behind bars. Immigration reform is the solution.”

Representatives from the small business community expressed their support to a practical solution that allows them the freedom to diversify and train their workforce. More than 200 union members marched and chanted their support for immigration reform. “There are close to twelve million hard-working, undocumented workers in this country. As long as those workers are marginalized and vulnerable to exploitation from employers, all workers will be hurt by lower wages and standards. Now is the time for comprehensive immigration reform,” stated Mike Garcia, president of SEIU United Service Workers West.

Rally organizers reminded the public that good will alone will not move Congress. The public needs to do one or two things: send a postcard to DHS Secretary Napolitano asking her to deliver on the President’s request for an immigration bill or text message the words “justice” or “justicia” in Spanish and dial 69866. The national network will send periodic action alerts to those who sign up via their cell phones. Rally organizers feel confident the introduction of a bill in the House of Representatives will ignite hope and activity in our nation. “Today, the immigrant rights movement calls on the Obama Administration to turn campaign promises into action. Last November, we voted for change and asked our leaders to find solutions to our nation’s pressing needs. The broken immigration system is a clear example of how Washington has been avoiding dealing with tough problems for too long and it is no longer acceptable that they use the ‘enforcement first’ band aid on a gashing wound. Our communities deserve to live free from fear. We deserve humane and comprehensive reform. We call on Congress and the President to help us fix this broken system. Together we can make it happen,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director for the Council on Mexican Federations of North America (COFEM).

The Los Angeles gathering will be followed by a large action in Santa Clara on Thursday, October 15 when DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks on border security. Families torn by immigration laws will be present and marchers will carry calaveras, crosses commemorating those who have died attempting to cross the border, and lit candles to signify hope, faith, and one diverse nation.

Participating and supporting organizations in today’s procession and rally included: American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU-SC), Asian Pacific American Law Center (APALC), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Center for Community Change (CCC), Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas de Norte America (COFEM), Central American Resources Center (CARECEN), Colombo-American Citizens In Action (CACIA), Korean Resource Center (KRC), Jewish Labor Committee Western Region (JLC), LA Voice-PICO, National Korean American Services & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Clergy and Laity United For Economic Justice (CLUE), Japanese American Citizen League-PSW, Placita Olvera Church, Reform Immigration FOR America (RI4A), SEIU United Service Workers West.