Joyous Families Celebrate Historic Breakthrough on Immigration

Years of Courage and Persistence Pay Off in Huge Step Forward on Immigration  

(WASHINGTON)—Today, millions of immigrant families are celebrating the historic breakthrough on immigration that provides them with the opportunity to remain in the U.S. and continue to contribute to America.  The new deferred action program for parents, crucial updates to the existing DACA program for DREAMers and a series of other administrative and enforcement reforms to update our outdated immigration system will provide major relief to immigrant families.

“President Obama did not win or lose and the GOP did not win or lose today,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM).  “This is a major victory for the immigrant rights movement in America. This victory belongs to the millions of immigrants who stood up and were unafraid.”

In his speech, President Obama highlighted the story of Astrid Silva, immigration organizer for PLAN. Here is what he said:

“Tomorrow, I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva.  Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old.  Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on.  When she started school, she didn’t speak any English.  She caught up to the other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and became a good student.  Her father worked in landscaping.  Her mother cleaned other people’s homes.  They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school for fear the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant – so she applied behind their back and got in.  Still, she mostly lived in the shadows – until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported.  It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.”

“This victory was more than a decade in the making and it shows that America does give way to the voices of real people,” Matos added. “Women won the right to vote, the labor movement built the middle class, people standing up for civil rights ended Jim Crow, LGBT people are ending marriage discrimination as we speak. And today, the immigrant rights movement led by families took a huge step in the fight for immigration reform and toward citizenship.”

“The President’s decision will transform the lives of millions of people who came to this country in search of a better life.  This year, families will sit down at the Thanksgiving table with less fear that a broken immigration system will tear them apart.”

Matos noted the administrative reforms announced by President Obama will not cover all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

“The struggle is not over until everyone has freedom from fear of detention, deportation and family separation,” Matos said. “We will not stop fighting until everyone has a path to citizenship.” 

She also noted that the enforcement reforms announced by the Administration could offer protection to many of the people not covered by deferred action – if they are actually implemented properly by DHS. 

“We are committed to keep fighting to ensure that DHS reins in ICE and CBP, agencies that routinely ignore their own stated enforcement priorities,” Matos said.

She also noted that the action announced today is temporary and that we need comprehensive immigration reform as a permanent fix.

“To those who would try to take this victory away and tell immigrant families ‘you are not welcome,’ we say you are on the wrong side of history,” Matos said. “Like all those who have stood against the arc of justice, you will be judged harshly. We will not forget. The immigrant rights movement is committed to full scale mobilization, not only to protect this historic step, but to parlay it into full inclusion and citizenship for all families.”

“This victory belongs to immigrants who stood up and said ‘I am a part of America and I am not afraid,’” Matos said.

 

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