Over the past month,1,500 women have fasted around the country for to keep families together and move immigration reform that’s fair to women forward. Now 100 women are taking this message to Washi
My name is Shivana Jorawar. Today, I am beginning a 48-hour fast with We Belong Together on the National Mall for the next two days. I am one of 100 women who will be going without food to feed the courage of House Leadership and the Obama Administration to take action to stop deportations and pass immigration reform that’s fair to women and families NOW.
Will you support our fast by sending a message of courage? Click here to send your message.
On Wednesday, we’ll break our fast and deliver the hearts of courage that you sent to House Leadership. We will make them see that women from across the country are paying attention, that we want reform, and that we are willing to go without food to feed their courage to do what is right.
I am fasting today for families who are separated by the backlog in the current family visa system. In 1971, at age 17, my mom left a small provincial country plagued by ethnic conflict and economic instability for the bright lights of New York City.
My mom came to the U.S. from Guyana on a family visa, sponsored by my grandmother, at a time when immigration laws were less harsh and reflected a recognition of the contributions immigrants make to our society and economy. She came after being separated from my grandmother for 2 years, during which she had to fill in as primary caretaker to her 7 small brothers and sisters.
If my mom’s story took place today, the wait to be reunited as a family would likely have been much, much longer. Today, there are millions of women just like my mom at 17—with hopes and dreams of a better future—who will never have the opportunity she did under our current broken immigration policies.
On Christmas day of last year, my mom and I went without food to make a statement to our lawmakers that enough is enough: immigrant women and families cannot wait any longer for justice. We went without Christmas dinner because our lives are firsthand testimony of why common sense immigration reform needs to happen now.
And now, after more than three months of inaction from our elected officials, I’m fasting with my mom again.
Immigrant women are the backbones of their families and give so much to this country. They and the millions of other immigrants in the US deserve reform, and they deserve it NOW.
Please support our fast by sending a message of courage! Click here to send your message.
Thank you for supporting our fast this week.
P.S. Watch our press conference and march live from the fasters tent today at noon ET/3:00pm PT: http://www.webelongtogether.org/Fast-livestream
In December 2010, I learned that I am “less than legal.”
I was two days shy of hitting my milestone 21st birthday and, just minutes earlier, had returned to San Antonio from a weeklong ski trip spent on the powdered slopes of Copper Mountain, Colo., with my closest college friends. After I arrived home from the airport, I trudged my hefty suitcase upstairs to my room and was preparing to unpack when my dad appeared at my door. Without enough warning, he nervously confronted me with the news: “You don’t have papers,” he said.
I stared blankly, expecting him to follow-up with a goofy smile or playful laughter, or something else to show that he wasn’t being serious. The smile never came. As it turned out, the Department of Homeland Security had sent a notice to my parents’ house confirming that my visa had expired. The letter verified that I was now considered an illegal immigrant who, upon conviction, could face a 10-year bar from reentering the country where I grew up.
I was completely blindsided by the news.
Most Texans think of so-called “DREAMers” as undocumented Mexicans, but was born in Canada and have an African and Indian heritage. Financial struggles led to my parents’ decision to move the family from Canada to San Antonio in October 1996 when I was only six years old. That makes me part of the DREAM Act-eligible population whose path to permanent residency stalled temporarily three Decembers ago when legislation failed to pass in the U.S. Senate. Like thousands of other foreign-born, American-raised students of undocumented status, I am caught in a legal limbo as a result of decisions that I, myself, did not make. My story is particularly unique because unlike many other undocumented young people, I grew up completely unaware of my legal status. I had always considered myself American because in every possible way, I was:
I went through the Texas public school system starting with first grade until my senior year at Ronald Reagan High School, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude, ranked in the top six percent of my class. By that time, I had been a Girl Scout, an accomplished cellist and was already proficient in four languages.
In high school I logged close to 800 hours of community service and, as a side project, organized a fundraiser that netted $10,000 for the emergency bone marrow transplant of a young boy I had never met. I was a member of Reagan’s Model United Nations program, Spanish Club, debate team and National Honor Society. I was also an editor of the student newspaper, which was the culmination of a decade-long dream to pursue a career in writing.
Years earlier, in the second grade, my teacher had recruited me to join the school’s Newspaper Club. I was instantly hooked. By the ripe age of seven years, I had established an unbreakable morning routine that involved poring over the San Antonio Express-News’ latest headlines before heading to school for the day. I was young, but my curiosity was insatiable. I wanted to know every detail about the people, places and culture that built the melting pot known as the United States. And while my classmates had hopes of becoming astronauts and ballerinas and firefighters when they grew up, I dreamt of becoming a writer.
It was no surprise when I chased that dream all the way to Chicago, where I enrolled at Northwestern University to study journalism. While there, I landed several internships: first with the U.S. House of Representatives in San Antonio, later with a nonprofit hunger relief agency and, finally, with the San Antonio Express-News. The following year, when an editor with a different high-profile newspaper in Texas called to offer me a paid internship with the news reporting team, I accepted without hesitation. I was ecstatic.
And that’s when I hit a roadblock. I had applied for a work permit and permanent residency years before, and I knew my “papers” were still processing. Without this document in hand, most businesses could not legally pay me to work. (At this point, I still did not know I was undocumented because many people – such as tourists and students – are able to legally live or study in the United States, but are not authorized to be employed.)
I explained my dilemma to the newspaper editor, who went so far as to consult with the company lawyers. Imagine my disappointment when he called the following week and explained that because I did not have a valid work permit, he could no longer offer me the internship.
I was crushed. I was enrolled in one of the best journalism programs in the country. I had spent my summer building up my news reporting experience, and I wanted that internship more than anyone I knew. I didn’t care about the money – I just wanted to write. The editor had chosen me for the position, so I felt I had rightfully earned it. I deserved it. It was supposed to be mine.
The only thing holding me back from pursuing my dream was a sheet of paper that, as far as I knew, was sitting amidst stacks of documents piled high on the desk of an unknown immigration officer. Once the document was signed, I would be issued a work permit, but, until then, I would simply have to wait. It was sorely frustrating because I knew there was nothing I could do to speed up the process of obtaining the permit.
The day I learned that I am undocumented – just weeks after that internship offer was rescinded — was the day I put my dream on pause. In the grand scheme of things, knowing the truth behind my legal status has helped me make better sense of the conditions that have shaped my life. During my high school years, my parents always kept me close in sight, afraid that if I somehow ran into trouble with the law, I would be picked up, detained and immediately deported. Because of this, my time spent behind the wheel was incredibly limited, as was my socializing. I never really understood why they refused to let me work while my classmates collected paychecks with their part-time jobs as cashiers or sandwich artists. Later, they told me they withheld the truth from me so I could concentrate on school without any legal distractions..
“You need to focus on your studies,” my mother would tell me, when the reality was that I didn’t have a valid work permit.
And now I understand why my parents discouraged me from studying abroad in college, even as my friends were flying off to Buenos Aires and Paris for the academic term. It’s because if I left the country, I wouldn’t be allowed back in.
Dhalla with ESPN reporter Michael Wilborn after graduation ceremonies at Northwestern University in June.
Dhalla with ESPN reporter Michael Wilborn after graduation ceremonies at Northwestern University in June.
For most college students, graduation day marks the birth of a new chapter in life. It’s an opportunity to move on from formal schooling to join the workforce. For an undocumented student like myself, graduation day was terrifying. I had deeply dreaded commencement since I learned of my legal status because it meant that I would no longer be comforted by the familiar confines of my school. I would no longer be a student, where my primary responsibility had always been to learn under the guidance of others.
Instead, I would be sent off into the “real world” with the expectation of not only practicing my trade, but excelling in it. Our commencement speakers explained that Northwestern had prepared us to make a difference in our communities. “Be bold and be brave,” they told us. All that was left for us to do, they said, was to “go forth and prosper.” It was inspiring, really, but mostly it was scary as hell. Making a profound difference in the community is a tough standard to live up to. It’s even more challenging without a work permit in hand, when I’m carrying nearly six figures of debt on my shoulders.
On June 15, 2012, as I was sitting next to my classmates at our commencement exercises, someone in Washington also was thinking of the financial concerns that plague undocumented students. That morning, President Obama stood in the White House Rose Garden and announced a new program (called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”), which will enable thousands of young undocumented Americans to obtain a work permit. In order to qualify, people must be age 31 or under and have arrived in the country before their 16th birthday. They must also meet criminal, education and military service requirements.
It was a gratifying graduation present, to say the least. And I’m happy to say that two weeks ago, I became one of the first young people in the country to be issued a conditional work permit – valid for two years – under the deferred action program. The card is my equivalent of a golden ticket. It is now possible for me to professionally practice a skill that I’ve loved since I was a little girl on the staff of my school’s Newspaper Club. What’s more relieving is that I can start paying off my student loans from my undergraduate education and start saving for graduate school.
Although I’m ecstatic about the opportunities that lie ahead, deferred action is not a long-term solution for my legal limbo. What’s most important is that the program does not create a lawful path to permanent residency. Receiving a work permit is a temporary fix that enables me to plan my life in two-year increments because the document will expire in July 2014 and, before that date, can be revoked at any time. And although I can legally find employment, I’ll continue to contribute sales and property taxes – and now an income tax – into public assistance programs like federal financial aid and Social Security that I won’t be able to benefit from.
Suffice it to say that I am American in every way except by virtue of birth. My parents did not ask my opinion when they chose to legally immigrate to this country 16 years ago. As a six-year-old child I did not have a choice to stay in the nation I was born, but I certainly took advantage of the opportunity to flourish in the country that I was raised.
Because of programs like President Obama’s deferred action initiative, I can say with confidence that my vision of the future is clearer and more promising than the day I first learned of my undocumented status three Decembers ago.
I come to you all today in my time of uncertainty, what I feared most might be turned into a reality that our community faces on a daily basis. Tonight I sat down and began working on my own sisters case intake form. As January my older sister Victoria was accused theft at her workplace at Dulle…
I come to you all today in my time of uncertainty, what I feared most might be turned into a reality that our community faces on a daily basis. Tonight I sat down and began working on my own sisters case intake form. As January my older sister Victoria was accused theft at her workplace at Dulles Airport. She is falling victim of an abusive boss, one who knows her undocumented status makes her vulnerable; he is accussing her and placed the warrant against her.
We were contacted by airport police and asked my sister to turn herself in, instead of putting out a warrant on her. She did as told was released under her own recognizance. Her pre-liminary court hearing will be on February 27, 2014.
These implications could in turn lead to my sister being placed in deportation proceedings due to the fact that her DACA is still pending approval.
I am fundraising for my sister’s legal representation as she will need both a criminal and immigration attorney. Both of my parents have been laid off and I am the only one blessed to have a job right now as an organizer with United We Dream.
I chose to get involved in our movement because our families need relief. I chose to get arrested because our families can no longer stand the system! My sister placed her dreams on hold all for me and I will do everything I can to keep my family together.
All I ask is to lend me your strength and courage to fight whatever comes my way. I will keep you all posted, thank you for the continuous love and support that you all have given me.
Its been a great year for undocumented youth in New Jersey. We were able to finally pass the In-State Tuition Bill and the fight continues to secure State Financial Aid for our community.
We want to share this important victory with the our sisters and brothers in the struggle from other states. For this reason, we are fundraising to attend the United We Dream National Congress which will be held in Arizona. If we reach our goal, we also plan on visiting the Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona. PLEASE SUPPORT US!!!
For details visit:
Dearest family, friends, allies and comrades,
My name is Jeff Kim, some of you may know me well, some may not at all, so i wanted to give a brief description of who i am. I am a undocumented korean immigrant and a activist in the los angeles area. my immigration status is complicated to say the least. I have wore few different hats in the last six years in the social justice sector, contributing to various causes from immigrant rights, academic access, anti-opppression, anti-police brutality, and rights for the houseless, especially focusing on intersectionality of all global struggles. Almost all the work I have done in activism has been unpaid work or very minimally compensated, but i have always felt fulfilled with the very minute amount of contribution to building justice for all.
The primary need for this assistance is regarding the myriad of my health issues, i have been in and out of the ER in the last three months especially, dealing with a ulcer, swelling of my kidneys, multiple broken ribs from police brutality and overall general lack of health. The cost for these visits were incredibly high, in the few thousands of dollars, and my step-father had paid for some of it on his credit card. My parents are financially struggling, and I have felt the utmost responsibility to pay him back as soon as i can, but with lack of access to a consistent job due to lack of daca and status, i have not been able to assist them with it. Because credit is a such integral part of living in this country, i have felt guilt and responsibility for my inability to help out, and most of this money would mostly go to helping pay these bills.
I have also not been able to afford to go to follow up visits or the medicines that i need to take for my various issues, and have suffered a bit in my recovery phase due to that. Some of the follow up check ups was considered necessary, but i have not been able to afford any of it. While i am getting bit better day by day, the stress from complications in my immigration status, along with mounting pressure from the inability to take care of myself nor the debt i owe, has had a tremendously negative impact in my mental illnesses. While asking for mutual aid is the last step i wanted to take, the amount of anxiety i have dealt with lately over this issue has been weighing me down quite a bit.
Along with my mounting medical bills, it has been difficult to pay rent where i am, as i do not have many family members around that i can depend on or live with. Even though the last few month has been almost solely focused on making rent by any means necessary, my options have become very limited in terms of work and making basic ends meet has become very tenuous. It would be very difficult for me at this time to be houseless with the amount of illnesses I am dealing with, as recovery in a form of a safe space is a integral key in getting better as soon as possible.
While i am requesting for mutual aid, i feel very selfish about my request and have many self-doubts about doing this as I know that financial situation is tough for most of us, especially activists. And i also know that all of us work hard to make ends meet, and that my story is not unique in our collective struggle for survival under the systematic oppressions we all face in different ways. Yet, i am also filled with hope that members of my communities can be empathetic to my situation, and for those who know me, how rare this type of call for help is, especially regarding money. At this time though, I am definitely in a bind, and humbly asking for any amount you can spare, so that i am able to help out with the debt that I have accrued in the ER and make sure I have a roof over my head for the next month while i continue to do my activism and search for jobs in order to find ways to make ends meet.
Also, your assistance is helping me continue my activism, as limited and little work that I do, i feel that my contribution to our communal spaces is something that I dearly hold to my heart and brings utmost fulfillment and joy that cannot be replaced by anything else i participate in. And i know the people I assist and impact through my organizing value my contributions to their cause, so your generosity would be showing solidarity to many houseless people and youth as these communities have been my main focus in autonomous activism lately.
I appreciate every one of you for reading this, and even if you cannot donate, please share and forward this widely. I am humbled and recognize my privilege that I have access to communities i can depend on and mutually aid one another in our collective struggle for liberation. and if any of you have further questions or rather donate to me in person, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. if there are issues with paypal, click the buy as a guest link in the PayPal checkout and you should be able to pay via debit/credit cards. if that option isnt there for some reason after you pressed check out with paypal, please email me and we can figure out other methods if youd still like to. truly inspired, overwhelmed and thankful for all your support! .
love and solidarity in struggle,
The same conservative student group that held an affirmative action bake sale at the University of Texas at Austin this fall is hosting another controversial event — this time, a mock immigration sting.
On Wednesday, the campus chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas will offer students $25 gift cards if they can “catch” an undocumented immigrant — a group of volunteers wearing “illegal immigrant” labels.
Gregory Vincent, UT-Austin’s vice president for diversity and community engagement, called YCT’s plans “inflammatory and demeaning.” While permitted under First Amendment rights, he said, the event runs counter to the university’s honor code.
"Once again in trying to be provocative, the YCT is contributing to an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty and staff by sending the message that certain students do not belong on our campus," he said in a statement. "Some UT-Austin students are undocumented, and under Dream Act legislation signed into law in 2001, these students are entitled to attend state universities. They are part of a growing diverse population on campus and in the state of Texas — a population that plays increasingly larger roles in our intellectual, economic, political and cultural communities."
YCT bills itself as a nonpartisan youth organization whose legislative priorities include eliminating a state law that allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates if they graduate from a Texas high school.
We are asking ICE to administratively close his case.
Acting ICE Director
“Hi my name is ____. I’m calling to ask ICE to agree to reopen and administratively close Gurmukh Singh’s case, A# 077-432-044, under Director Sandweg’s August 2014 parental interests directive. Although Gurmukh was released from detention after 5 ½ months, he still faces imminent deportation and separation from his family. I strongly urge you to exercise prosecutorial discretion during Gurmukh’s November 18 court mediation and agree to reopen and administratively close his case. Gurmukh is the parent and primary caretaker of two minor U.S. citizen children and his elderly parent, is married to a U.S. citizen, and is a contributing member to the community. His deportation will cause emotional, psychological, and financial hardship to his children and family. Please do not let the Singh family be separated. I urge you to administratively close Gurmukh’s case. Thank you.”
About Mr. Singh
Gurmukh Singh is a father of two U.S. citizen children, a loving husband, a caregiver to his elderly parents, and a taxi driver who is part of the Orange County Taxicab Drivers Association. Yet he is facing imminent deportation, after getting picked up and detained by ICE in April 2013 on the day of his family visa interview.
Gurmukh fled India over 15 years ago and came to the U.S. When his asylum application and subsequent appeal were denied due to faulty representation, he was ordered to be deported. However, unaware of this final order of removal, his wife petitioned for his green card. At his immigration interview, while dressed in a new suit that he had purchased for the day, he was arrested by immigration agents. Although he was released after five and a half months of detention, he still faces imminent separation from his family.
Gurmukh is the father of two U.S. citizen children who are 11 and 14 years old. On August 23, 2013, ICE issued a new “Parental Interests” directive, which states that special consideration should be made in the placement, detention, and deportation of immigrants who are parents and primary caretakers of U.S. citizen children. Gurmukh’s case squarely fits into the criteria outlined by the parental directive.
Because undocumented immigrants contribute $15 billion dollars to Social Security in payroll taxes.
Many of us live in mixed-status families, and we’re only one traffic violation away from being ripped apart from our families.
With the constant threat of deportations through things like SB1070 and SComm, our communities, even the ones with legal status lie paralyzed from fear.
It’s time for us to come out of the shadows of using someone else’s Social Security Card/Number so that we prove how much we contribute to our communities.
The congressional inaction on immigration reform makes us doubt whether there will be a pathway for legalization beyond us: our parents, friends who didn’t make the cutoff. we see Deferred Action for All as a solution for our communities.
With Congress being the boys’ club that it is we are already seeing how their ideas of policy are hurting women. Women are being jeopardized in this immigration reform battle where instead of focusing on issues of immigration like family visas they’re talking about more money into the border and drones and a bunch of things that will not keep families together and will not support our communities.
Originally by @livlylife
The Senate’s bipartisan bill, which passed with nearly 70 votes, demonstrates the overwhelming support of Americans across party lines, demographics, and geography for comprehensive immigration reform. Despite strong protest from many communities against the bill’s elimination of the sibling and adult married category, the Senate bill nevertheless contains key family provisions benefiting immigrant families. These include the elimination of decades-long backlogs and strengthening the ability of some family members to reunite.
In your own chamber, Representative Mike Honda, along with 67 co-sponsors, has introduced the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 717) that proposes needed reforms to our family immigration system. H.R. 717 stands in stark contrast to the SKILLS Visas Act (H.R. 2131), which would eliminate sibling sponsorship and invalidate many approved applications in the visa backlog. These changes would have a devastating impact on immigrant communities and our economy. I urge your support to include pro-family measures like those in the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 717) in comprehensive immigration reform.
I, with many in your district, look forward to your leadership in comprehensive immigration reform that protects family unity and strengthens the ability for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to reunite with their loved ones in a timely manner.