Introducing a Powerful New Tool for Immigration Reform Advocacy

Posted on 05/04/2015

FWD.us is proud to announce a new way to help constituents and advocacy organizations have productive meetings with members of Congress on the topic of immigration reform.

Starting today, anyone is able to access FWD.us Push4Reform information packets tailored specifically to each member of Congress on the topic of immigration reform. These packets include in-depth constituent stories, letters from within each member’s respective district, state-specific statistics, and access to additional resources.

Push4Reform Packet Launch

Why this matters:

When individuals meet with their Congress member, they often attend the meeting armed with only their personal experience. While powerful, these meetings can also sometimes end without a specific request of the member of Congress.

When advocacy organizations meet with a Representative, a staff member will typically compile a one-off packet of information containing relevant statistics and individuals affected by the issue at hand, containing:

  1. A high-level overview of the issue at hand
  2. Statistics and information about how the issue will affect the Representative’s state and district
  3. Key immigration reform resources
  4. A collection of high-quality stories and other personal content that will help the Representative understand the issue from an individual’s perspective

Finding these statistics, stories, and letters that are pertinent to each Representative’s district is often the most time consuming part. With 535 Members of Congress, this is a daunting task for many organizations. And it’s even more of a daunting task for a constituent to compile information about why their very personal story should matter to their member of Congress.

How we’re changing the game:

FWD.us has brought together the power of these important statistics and personal stories with our ability make this always up-to-date information available at the click of a button.

Now, when an advocate wants to meet with Rep. Mike Honda about why immigration reform is important to her and her community, she can simply visit Push4Reform and print or email the information packet tailored to her district.

We’re excited to offer a new product that allows more people to have more informed, impactful conversations about the incredible benefits of immigration reform. Some of us have our own stories, some want to tell stories of friends. And for those of us who aren’t economists, having a resource that presents state-specific data is a huge help.

What’s next?

Does this have everything it should? Not yet! We need your help to  make sure we continue to build a great tool that has the most powerful and precise arguments for immigration reform. Your stories and letters can help tremendously with this effort so we hope you can share your own immigration story on Built By Immigrants or write a public letter to your representative. Finally, let us know in the comments what else you’d like to see in these Push4Reform info packets!

We’re continuing to use traditional grassroots organizing tactics combined with the power of technology to help drive meaningful conversations between constituents and their legislators. Push4Reform packets are one more way we’re helping to bridge the gap between tech and politics.

Find your rep and print or email their customized information packet today.

The Next America: Population 2043

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 05/01/2015

Yesterday, Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, joined National Journal‘s ”The Next America: Population 2043” town hall in San Jose, California, where she discussed how California is taking a unique approach to immigration challenges and opportunities. DREAMer Sarahi Salamanca highlighted challenges facing undocumented students seeking educational and workforce opportunities in a panel discussion with former Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa and California State Assembly Member Rocky Chavez. Later, tech leaders Lars Dalgaard, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and Pierre-Jean “PJ” Cobut, Echo Labs co-founder, discussed how high-skilled immigration reform is essential to California’s economy and prospects for future job creation.

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Napolitano spoke specifically about the success of California’s program that allows undocumented students to receive financial aid and emphasized the importance of increasing access to education for minority students.

View clips from the event on our YouTube channel here.

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“Look at the talent we have in this state,” Mayor Villaraigosa said, referring to Salamanca. Later, Villaraigosa underscored the need for California to invest in its students – regardless of immigration status.

Join the fight for reform – find out where your representative stands on immigration reform using our app Push4Reform.

The Next America: Population 2043 was hosted by Emerson Collective, National Journal Live, and FWD.us.

HB 3528: An Important Step Forward for Illinois

Posted by Caitlin McClure on 04/30/2015

This blog was written by Caitlin McClure, a Chicago chapter member and the Communications Director at Rise. 

In Illinois, HB 3528 could change the lives of thousands of aspiring students. If passed, the bill would allow undocumented students who graduated from an Illinois high school to receive financial aid at public colleges and universities across the state.

Undocumented students in the United States are held back because they often can’t afford to go to college. They are frequently treated as international students, making tuition incredibly high, and leaving many students without viable options for higher education.

For me, supporting HB 3528 is easy. We all deserve a chance to better educate ourselves and should have an opportunity to further benefit our lives and our community. I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Illinois where most people were white, and I had only met a few immigrants in my life. When I got to University of Illinois, I didn’t even know undocumented students existed. But then I met Vishal Disawar, an undocumented immigrant and the founder of Rise – a student-led organization dedicated to advocating for socially conscious policies at University of Illinois (find more about Vishal here).

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After getting involved in Rise, I’m shocked by how blind I was before to the discrimination undocumented students face right here in my home state. It’s time to take a stand, Illinoisans. HB 3528 will be voted on soon and it needs to be passed.

Shouldn’t we be proud that we have one of the best education systems in the world and people want to experience it? The students affected by HB 3528 have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world just by having access to higher education; they could be the next people making important discoveries, or inventing new products.

“We are simply asking for help, as we seek to ensure a better future for ourselves and for our families. We seek to improve our condition, and consequently, the condition of the country in which we live,” said Elizabeth Bonilla, an undocumented student at University of Illinois.

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So how can you help? Use the interactive tool built by us at Rise – this tool allows you to tweet or send online postcards to your local representative, just by entering in your zip code. It also provides you with a phone number and a script if you choose to pick up the phone and call your representative. There’s never been an easier way to fight for important policies in Illinois.

Want to get involved in political advocacy in your city? Click here to find your local FWD.us chapter!

This blog post was adapted from the original post by the author on Medium.

Revoking Birthright Citizenship is Misguided

Posted on 04/29/2015

Washington, DC – Todd Schulte, President of FWD.us, released the following statement today ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the consideration of revoking birthright citizenship:

“Today’s hearing on revoking birthright citizenship is a misguided attempt to rewrite the Constitution. Congress’s failure to fix our immigration system is costing our economy to lose $37 million a day, and yet this is their preoccupation. This unfortunate effort is a waste of time that should instead be spent working on meaningful immigration reform legislation.”