This Week in Immigration Reform – Week Ending March 7

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Week Ending March 7, 2014

This week in immigration reform: NCLR salutes the tremendous work done for immigration reform by the Senate Gang of Eight and the Fast for Families fasters at our 2014 Capital Awards gala, where NCLR’s Janet Murguía criticizes continued House Republican inaction on immigration reform and calls on President Obama to stop unnecessary deportations; hundreds of advocates travel to Washington, D.C. for NCLR’s 2014 National Latino Advocacy Days and lobby Congress on the need for immigration reform legislation and other Latino priorities; and NCLR and its network tweet at House Republican leadership, telling them that Latino voters will remember their obstruction when they go to the polls in the November midterm elections.  NCLR kept the community informed in a number of media appearances this week, with staff quoted in the Associated Press, the Washington Post, Politico, CBS News, NPR, NBC, USA Today, Univision, Fox News LA, The Hill, and many other news outlets.

NCLR salutes efforts of Gang of Eight, Fast for Families at 2014 Capital Awards, where Janet Murguía lambasts House Republican inaction on immigration reform while calling on Pres. Obama to stop unnecessary deportations.  NCLR bestowed its highest honors on the Senate Gang of Eight and the Fast for Families fasters, honoring them for their heroic efforts for immigration reform, at its 27th Annual Capital Awards ceremony this Tuesday, Mar. 4th.

NCLR’s Janet Murguía focused on the fight for immigration reform in her remarks Tuesday night, criticizing continued House Republican inaction on immigration reform while also calling on President Obama to stop separating families by putting an end to hundreds of thousands of senseless deportations.  You can read Janet’s remarks here.  Imm_reformUpdate_3_7_2014_pic1

Fast for Families fasters Eliseo Medina, Lisa Sharon Harper, and Rudy Lopez are hailed at NCLR’s 2014 Capital Awards.

Imm_reformUpdate_3_7_2014_pic2Representing the Senate Gang of Eight, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are awarded for their efforts on immigration reform by NCLR’s Janet Murguía, NCLR Board Chair Jorge Plasencia, and NCLR Board Member Cid Wilson at the 2014 Capital Awards (photo: @SEIU_Eliseo).

Hundreds of advocates come together at NCLR’s 2014 National Latino Advocacy Days for two days of trainings, meetings on the Hill, and action for immigration reform.  This week witnessed hundreds of community leaders, representing 25 states across the country including North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, and Idaho, coming to Washington, D.C. to take part in NCLR’s 2014 National Latino Advocacy Days.

The advocates – many of them members of NCLR’s nearly 300 Affiliate organizations – spent Wednesday, Mar. 5 at an all-day training, where they strategized around achieving Latino legislative priorities in 2014 and prepared to visit their members of Congress on the Hill on Thursday, Mar. 6.

Imm_reformUpdate_3_7_2014_pic3National Latino Advocacy Days participants attending a policy session on strategies for keeping families together.

NCLR Affiliates and partners followed up on the day of training by traveling to the Hill this Thursday, Mar. 6 and meeting with their members of Congress and staff.  Advocates urged the House to get to work on an immigration reform bill and discussed other areas of concern to the Latino community, including education, equality and economic opportunity, healthcare, and school bullying.

Imm_reformUpdate_3_7_2014_pic4Members of NCLR Affiliates Enlace Chicago, Gads Hill Center, Latino Policy Forum, and Northwest Side Housing Center prepare to meet with their members of Congress as part of NCLR’s 2014 National Latino Advocacy Days (photo: @Latinopolicy).

NCLR, its Affiliates, and partners capped off the day’s visits by staging a mock election outside of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA-7) office, with advocates submitting ballots marked “yes” for immigration reform as a reminder to House Republicans that Latino voters care deeply about reform and will remember those who obstruct it in the 2014 November elections.

Imm_reformUpdate_3_7_2014_pic5NCLR and NCLR Affiliates line up outside House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA-7) office and prepare to deliver hundreds of “votes” for immigration reform to the Congressman.

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Youth members of NCLR Affiliate Latino Memphis join NCLR staff in the halls of Congress for NCLR’s 2014 National Latino Advocacy Days (photo: @LatinoMemphis).

NCLR & allies tweet at Congressional leadership: we’ll be voting “Yes” on immigration reform. In support of its Mar. 6 action outside of Majority Leader Cantor’s office, NCLR and its network are tweeting at Congressional leadership this week, telling GOP leaders that Latino voters care deeply about immigration reform and, if Republican leadership continues to block progress on reform, will remember when they go to the polls in the November midterm elections and beyond.

Join us and use our Twitter tool to send Congressional leadership a message, and share the graphic below on Facebook:

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NCLR Celebrates and Advocates!

Hundreds joined NCLR this week for our Annual NCLR Capital Awards and National Latino Advocacy Days. Below are highlights from this past week.

NCLR 2014 Capital Awards Speech: President’s Message

Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

NLCR Capital Awards, March 4, 2014 • Washington, DC

Each year at this event we honor bipartisanship. This is not by accident.

As a community — and as an organization — bipartisanship is a vital part of who we are.  Latinos offer a broad variety of experiences, cultural histories, and political views that long to be represented in American politics.

We don’t adhere to one party, one ideology, or one point of view.  We, of all people, understand and value diversity.

But, among those who govern, bipartisanship is a responsibility. It is the hallmark of democracy.

People with different points of view come together to defend their principles and present their opinions, but ultimately sit down to negotiate, so that the people’s business is done. It’s called governing.

Three months ago, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray sat down to negotiate a budget, and while neither side got everything they wanted, they stunned the nation’s capital by coming to an agreement. And last month, Congress passed and the president signed an extension of the debt ceiling.

These developments felt like a breath of fresh air, even though they were just doing the jobs they were elected to do. They demonstrated that bipartisanship is possible. Governing is possible.

It’s what the country wants.  It’s what our community wants.  It is what our nation needs.

After the last two elections, leaders from both parties signaled that resolving the immigration debate was possible.

And tonight we honored the sponsors of a true bipartisan agreement — the Gang of Eight — who raised hopes for comprehensive immigration reform by crafting and passing a landmark Senate bill.

Yet our hopes, once again, have been dashed by political gridlock.

One week after saying he was ready to move forward with immigration reform, Speaker Boehner pulled the plug on legislation in the House.  He said, and I quote, “There’s widespread doubt about whether this Administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.

And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”

Seriously? Failing to enforce our laws?

For us, this president has been the deporter-in-chief.

Any day now, this Administration will reach the two million mark for deportations.  It is a staggering number that far outstrips any of his predecessors and leaves behind it a wake of devastation for families across America.

Many groups, including NCLR, have long been calling on the president to mitigate the damage of these record deportations.

But again we hear no.

The president says his administration does not have the authority to act on its own.

All we hear is no. No from Congress. No from the Administration.

But here’s the thing:  we won’t take no for an answer, because we can’t — not while over 400,000 people a year are being deported by this administration. Not while millions continue to live in the shadows, struggling in fear, every single day of their lives, outside the scope and protection of the law.

Nearly half of those being deported are simply hardworking people who have put down roots in their communities and have employers who count on them. Most have been here more than a decade.

One out of every four deportees is the parent of a child who is a U.S. citizen. Hundreds of thousands of these children, our children, are being deprived of their mother or father— and very often the family’s only breadwinner. It will take generations to heal the harm caused by inaction.

So, yes. We respectfully disagree with the president on his ability to stop unnecessary deportations.

He can stop tearing families apart. He can stop throwing communities and businesses into chaos. He can stop turning a blind eye to the harm being done. He does have the power to stop this. Failure to act will be a shameful legacy for his presidency.

But we cannot rely on administrative relief alone.  It’s important and it’s needed, but it is also limited and temporary.  We do a grave disservice to our community and to ourselves if we focus on only one front in this battle.

Only Congress can deliver a broad, inclusive, and lasting solution. So, to the House of Representatives, we say take up reform now, or suffer the political consequences.

There is no excuse not to.

Reform will add more than a trillion dollars of economic growth, and billions more in wage increases and tax revenues.

You have had more than enough time to come up with legislation to move reform forward. It is time to stop the political gamesmanship. This is not the “House of Cards.”

It is about ending the pain and suffering of millions of real people. It is about ending a patchwork of laws where even native-born U.S. citizens are at risk of arrest and detention. It is about ending a broken immigration system that ill-serves every sector of our society.

Sticking your head in the sand won’t make this issue go away. It won’t go away because we won’t go away.

For us, this issue is a matter of conscience. This is not a time to step aside. It is a time to step up. We are not bystanders in this process.  We wouldn’t even be having this debate if it weren’t for the power of the Latino vote.

The path to immigration reform was not preordained; we created it.

But our work is not yet complete.

We will finish it by strengthening and by exercising our voice. Be it in the halls of Congress, in public forums, and most especially at the ballot box.

We will empower the millions who are eligible, to become citizens. We will empower the millions who are citizens, to register. We will empower the millions who are registered, to get out and vote. And on Election Day, we will make our choice.

And our message to policymakers and everyone else will be very clear:  it is our community who will determine when the immigration debate is over. We will determine when the issue is resolved. And we won’t stop until it’s done.

Bipartisanship is possible. Governing is possible.

It’s what we all want.  It’s what we all deserve.  It’s the basis of our democracy and it is a responsibility we all share.

It’s long past time we got on with it.

A Preview of Tonight’s 27th Annual NCLR Capital Awards

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Tonight in Washington, DC, NCLR will bring together hundreds for our 27th Annual NCLR Capital Awards. Every year, we honor folks in Washington who have shown their committment to the Latino community in the work they do every day. This year, those receiving special distinction include the Senate “Gang of 8”, which was responsible for sheperding through to passage in the U.S. Senate a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The legislation has stalled in the House of Representatives, but the leadership these eight Senators provided in getting the bill through deserves recognition.

JM_fastersWe’ll also be honoring the Fast for Families movement, which was started in November and led by Service Employees International Union Vice President, Eliseo Medina. The fast Medina and several others took part in on the National Mall last year was inspiring and received the attention of many in Washington, including President Obama. Fast for Families also recently started a bus tour across America, to highlight others around the country who have committed to fasting until immigration reform is passed. Fast for Families has put a human face on the struggle for reform and serves as a reminder of who it is we are all fighting for.

Finally, our President and CEO, Janet Murguía will deliver an address to Capital Awards attendees in which she intends to call on President Obama to put an end to unnecessary deportations, which are slated to reach two million in a matter of weeks. The Washington politcal newspaper, Politico, published a piece today in which Murguia talked about the president’s deportation record and about what will be in her speech this evening.

From the Politico article:

“Murguía said NCLR has been privately urging the White House for months to do something about deportations — which will soon number 2 million since Obama took office. The group was also using its megaphone to blame Congress and not Obama for the deportations. Just three weeks ago, NCLR called for an end “to unnecessary deportations” and asked supporters to “ask Republican leadership to take a stand for family values and pass immigration reform.”

Now that focus is being directed at the White House.

“We respectfully disagree with the president on his ability to stop unnecessary deportations,” Murguía will say during a Tuesday night speech to NCLR’s annual Capital Awards dinner, according to prepared remarks. “He can stop tearing families apart. He can stop throwing communities and businesses into chaos. He can stop turning a blind eye to the harm being done. He does have the power to stop this. Failure to act will be a shameful legacy for his presidency.”

It’s sure to be an exciting and news-making kind of night, so don’t miss out! You can follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram. Just follow #NCLRCaps14 and join in via the widget below. We’ll be covering the entire evening.


We’ll see you online!