Why Supporting Immigrant Families Strengthens Our City of Cambridge

Posted by Leland Cheung on 10/26/2015

Cambridge City Councillor Leland CheungFollowing post written by Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung 

Because of the court’s...inaction, millions of lives are in limbo. #immigration Click To Tweet

In March, I submitted a policy order that saw Cambridge stand with nearly 100 other cities nationwide in support of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. President Obama’s actions would allow for millions of immigrants in our communities to work legally in the United States without the ever pending threat of deportation.

I was proud to see Cambridge join cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta in submitting an amicus brief to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals asking for the Court to not delay implementation of the executive actions while the court reviewed it. Unfortunately, in spite of widespread public support, and the clear need for implementation of the actions without delay, the 5th Circuit Court has neither made a decision on the case, nor allowed for the President’s actions to take effect as we await their decision.

Thousands of families in Massachusetts are affected by the inaction of the court. As the son of immigrants, I identify with the stress many families feel about uncertain futures. Immigrants, be they undocumented or documented, are integral to the fabric of our communities. These same immigrants who some would demonize are business owners, taxpayers, students, parents, and grandparents. These individuals share our same hopes and dreams: a brighter future for themselves and their children.

Despite strong public support across the country, many hard-working immigrant families live with the constant threat of deportation. Our friend-of-the-court brief argued that the court failed to consider the significant harms to America’s local governments caused by the delay to implementing President Obama’s executive actions. Not only did the court reject our arguments, but they have also still failed to rule in the case. Because of the court’s cowardice and inaction, millions of lives are in limbo, and the strength of communities across America suffers.

A large basis of the arguments against support for immigrant families is the concern that they will “take American jobs.” I wonder if the court and those who propagate these arguments realize that the simplest, and most effective course of action would be to enable immigrants to be paid legally, require employers to provide the same prevailing wages and benefits as they do to documented employees, and report those earnings for taxes. Not only would this be the decent human approach, but it would also help to level the playing field for all workers.

The City of Cambridge has long prioritized a decent, humanizing approach for immigrants in our community, from adopting a sanctuary city ordinance, to establishing community organizations to serve immigrant youth. I have seen firsthand how Cambridge’s culture of inclusivity allows for our city to thrive. President Obama’s order takes an evenhanded approach to fixing our broken system, cracking down on criminals and instituting background checks, all while helping those who contribute to our communities come out of the shadows.

I believe that the President’s actions will help clear the path for every community in America to see their immigrant residents openly contribute and thrive. It is time for the court to uphold President Obama’s actions and stop standing in the way of progress.

New York & Los Angeles Call for 5th Circuit Court Decision on DACA & DAPA

Posted by Catherine Lyons and Dara Adams on 10/23/2015

court decision daca dapa

 

Families who could benefit from DACA + DAPA are in limbo. #FamiliesFightBack Click To Tweet

Earlier this week, FWD.us New York and Los Angeles chapters partnered with immigrant groups and city governments to call on the 5th circuit court to deliver a decision on the proposed expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs set forth in President Obama’s executive actions. More than 100 days have passed since arguments closed on the 5th circuit case, yet the court still has not acted. If this delay continues, the window for appealing to the Supreme Court during an Obama presidency will close, leaving millions of families who could benefit from this action in limbo.

New York

FWD.us joined with immigration reform groups and Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal at a rally in New York calling on the 5th circuit court to issue a decision on DACA and DAPA. More than 50 people turned out to demand a decision from the court, including several affected immigrants who bravely stood up and shared their stories. Among those immigrants was FWD.us New York chapter member Cris Mercado. Cris is an undocumented immigrant entrepreneur who, through his startup Grant Answers, has helped more than 150 students get scholarships and grants for college.

...this inaction wastes our potential to do so much more for a country that we love. –Cris M. Click To Tweet

“The 5th Circuit Court’s inaction is a painfully ironic response to an appeal of President Obama’s executive action for DACA extension and DAPA,” said Cris in a speech at the rally. “There are millions of immigrants, like myself, who already positively contribute to their communities, millions of immigrants who already pay their taxes, millions of immigrants who already possess high-level skills – and this inaction wastes our potential to do so much more for a country that we love.”

Los Angeles

On Wednesday, the FWD.us LA Chapter joined with immigration reform coalition partners – including CHIRLA, SEIU State Council, KIWA and Children Over Politics – at a march, press conference, and 24-hour fast and vigil in Los Angeles to stand up for expanded DACA and DAPA and call on the 5th circuit court to act. The event was held on the steps of the US District Court, and was timed in solidarity with advocates in New Orleans who were also fasting outside the 5th circuit.

At the press conference, several advocates and affected immigrants bravely stood up and demanded that the court act. One of our supporters, Carol Gonzalez, a graduate of UC Riverside and student at Codesmith who hopes to one day be a software engineer at a tech company, spoke out about the economic and moral imperatives for these programs and comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration reform is invaluable and not only is it the right thing to do, it is a necessity... –Carol G. Click To Tweet

“Growing up, I saw the challenges and consequences that many families had to face because of a broken immigration system – including my own,” said Carol. “Immigration reform is invaluable and not only is it the right thing to do, it is a necessity in order to create thriving communities and a stronger economy. If the growth and change that we are seeing in our socio-economic landscape is not met with the due care and attention that it deserves, we risk undermining these individuals’ dedication, their potential to create jobs and their desire to invest in the country they love.”

Ahead of the First Democratic Debate: A Chance for Candidates to State Their Positions on Immigration Reform

Posted by Todd Schulte on 10/13/2015

You’ve heard a lot about how Democrats have made significant gains in recent years among Latino and Asian American voters, among whom immigration reform is a critical issue.

However, it would be a mistake to assume Democrats have a lock on the support of these important voting blocs: more Asian-American and Latino voters self-identify as independents than do white Americans.

At FWD.us, we strongly believe that with the general election drawing closer every day, candidates from both parties have the opportunity to reject soundly the concept of mass deportation currently being proposed by some presidential candidates.

While we’re looking forward to the first Democratic debate, and while we appreciate many of these candidates’ strong support for immigration reform, we’ll be keeping an ear out for answers to the following critical questions:

  1. Will you make immigration reform a top priority and push for immediate passage of immigration reform starting on day one?
  2. What will you do as President so that we leverage the broad bipartisan support for immigration reform and actually get it done?
  3. What ways do you see immigrants as drivers of economic growth?
  4. Candidate Bernie Sanders recently said that increased immigration would “substantially lower wages in this country.” But it’s a fact that immigrants promote economic growth for native-born Americans. How, as President do you plan to fix and modernize our broken immigration system so that immigrants will be able to continue driving economic growth and job creation for native-born middle-class Americans?

In preparation for today’s debate, we have built out a comprehensive list of statements from all of the currently-declared Democratic and Republican 2016 presidential contenders, and will regularly update the page as candidates continue to weigh in on critical issues of reform.

Learn more about the Presidential Candidate Tracker here.

First FWD.us University Chapter Launches at Yale

Posted by Topiltzin Gomez on 10/09/2015

FWD.us University Chapter

“How many of us do you think there are?” I asked my friend. He took a sip of his coffee and the Gothic carillon bells counted the hour as he and I counted people.

“For sure, for sure, I know at least five in my year.”
“I heard –––– is undocumented.”
“Yeah, she mentioned it to me, but we don’t talk much.”

That day my friend and I discussed the common threads in our lives: border stories and struggle stories and “haven’t seen abuela in thirteen years” stories. We could talk about that one part of our lives that nobody could really sympathize with. We talked freely.

But – like spies in a movie – once that covert conversation was over, it was back to normal. These conversations were rare, chance interactions, whispers in the loud babel of busy student life. I wasn’t hiding the fact that I was undocumented, far from it, but my immigration status was such a seamless and subtle aspect to my identity that it might as well have been a secret double life. As a DACAmented student at an Ivy League institution, I had the privilege to put on and take off the identity as I wished. I was not subject to racially motivated searches, I was not in immediate danger of deportation, and because of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), I had the ability to work in the U.S. (albeit temporarily) and expect fair treatment. However, just because I could take off the identity for moments at a time, it did not mean things were okay. Things are not okay, not for me, and especially not for the 11 million other undocumented immigrants in this country who suffer under an immigration system that continues to disregard human dignity and belittle the contributions immigrants have made to this nation.

These daily injustices call for shouts; however, at Yale, we whispered.

FWD.us University Chapter

 

This is not to say that activism and discourse around immigration reform has not existed. In fact, New Haven stands as a powerful center for grassroots activism and mobilization. Local and regional organizations have made Connecticut and New Haven enact progressive legislation that should serve as an example to the nation as a whole. But within Yale’s ivory tower, the movement has lacked the intentionality it deserved. This was an issue of unimaginable importance to communities across the nation. It deserved to be treated as such, with intentional, directed discussion and action.

Enter FWDYale: the first FWD.us university chapter and the first Yale University student organization dedicated to immigration reform. FWDYale was founded by Carolina Rivera who interned at FWD.us this summer. Inspired by FWD.us’s mission, she spearheaded the creation of FWDYale with the goal of “connecting brilliant, young passionate students” around the issue of immigration reform. The chapter will serve to “empower students to engage in meaningful advocacy at the local, state, and national levels.”

To me, FWDYale’s presence is a statement, not just to the university but also to immigrants within this campus. It announces that there are immigrant students within Yale, and more importantly, creates a medium through which the issues and stories of immigrant students can be communicated and acted upon. In just two weeks of existence FWDYale has attracted students, both those personally affected by the issue and those curious to learn more about the intricacies behind such a politicized subject. The group plans to engage in all aspects of the movement, ranging from hosting an immigration panel where Yale students will be able to tell their stories to helping undocumented high school students in the area navigate a very difficult college application process.

My friend, Juan Carlos Cerda, who counted our undocumented classmates with me over coffee, graduated last spring. In his last few months on campus, he wrote in the Yale Daily News, “It’s time for DREAMers to have a voice here. It’s time for our suitemates, friends, professors, administrators and representatives in Washington to know our stories.” He was right. Here, where policy is debated and constructed, where policymakers and leaders are trained – this is exactly the place where the often-hushed voices of immigrants need to be amplified. This conversation can no longer exist in whispers.

Interested in starting your own FWD.us university chapter? Contact Ali Procopio at ali@fwd.us for more information.