I am an immigrant. I know this. I live it. Everyday.
As we draw closer to Election Day, there has been a lot of talk about the challenges those of us as immigrants face. This is true, we face many. We should also empower the incredible contributions we (immigrants) make to this country. In trying to figure out how I can help in continuing the conversation, it dawned on me the dire need for real discussions about immigration reform.
Bringing the #IAmAnImmigrant campaign to The New School created a space for conversations at an institution where students are hungry for social change. A campaign focused on raising awareness of our country’s diversity meant an entryway for people like me to get involved in the cause. During our event, I had the pleasure of speaking to countless students, faculty and staff about their stories. These stories ranged from students born in the United States with undocumented parents to allies of the movement finding new ways to spread knowledge around their communities. At the core of these stories, was a desire to change a broken system that has followed us for decades.
“I needed to share my story. I needed to understand that I was not alone in this fight.”
As a son of immigrant parents who migrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic for a better life, and an immigrant myself, the idea of mass deportation and the repeated talks of building walls hits close to home. Having close family members that are currently undocumented who have not been provided with a pathway for citizenship essentially means the breaking of my family roots. I needed to share my story. I needed to understand that I was not alone in this fight. The numerous names in the wall canvas we created during our event represents the struggle millions of people face everyday to be heard. The need to feel like they are part of the community they so honorably serve. This struggles crosses race, gender or socioeconomic status. This struggle is the reality millions of our people face.
Deconstructing the stereotypes and misconceptions about who we (immigrants) are and the value that we bring to the community is also crucial. There are often talks on both sides about pros and cons of coming up with a comprehensive plan for reform, but often little action. In a time when the future of our country is dependent on the election results of Tuesday night, it is more important than ever that our elected officials see the value in having the 11 million undocumented immigrants contribute to our society on all fronts. We are educators, entrepreneurs, and the driving force of an economy that will collapse if the decision of deporting these 11 million people ever finds the light of day.
And while I am one of many fighting to spread the word on the importance of comprehensive immigration reform, we must continue to raise our voices and demand to be heard. We have a social responsibility to be the voice of those who are afraid; of those who understandably feel defeated. Experiencing the overwhelming amount of students across the country on November 1st during the Day of Action sharing their stories and demanding change ignited in me a sense of hope. I am proud to stand alongside FWD.us in their fight to build a movement that makes Congress accountable in fixing this broken system.
By Jóse Dejesus-Gil
Program Administrator for Parsons School of Design at The New School
Today, we’re announcing our support for ballot measures in two states — Proposition 57 in California and State Questions 780 and 781 in Oklahoma — that we believe will achieve important criminal justice reforms. We’re supporting these ballot measures while remaining steadfast in our commitment to achieving commonsense immigration reform.
Criminal justice reform is a complicated topic. There’s a lot we’re still learning, but this we know: There are aspects of America’s criminal justice system that are broken, including some that have particularly negative impacts on the poor and communities of color, and fixing them is going to take a lot of hard work.
Over the last few years, we’ve worked with diverse, bipartisan coalitions in our continuing fight for commonsense immigration reform; we’re encouraged to see a similar coalition growing to support criminal justice reform.
We believe it’s important to look for bipartisan opportunities to find practical solutions to big problems. We’re excited that this is happening in states as different as California and Oklahoma. In both places, broad bipartisan coalitions — conservatives and progressives, law enforcement professionals and formerly incarcerated people and their families, elected officials and crime survivors, business groups and faith leaders — are coming together to improve their criminal justice systems.
The Oklahoma and California ballot measures are advancing balanced approaches to public safety that will reduce recidivism through rehabilitation strategies like treatment for substance abuse and mental health problems, education, and job training. State Questions 780 and 781 would reclassify certain minor offenses like drug possession as misdemeanors and reinvest the savings into community-based rehabilitation programs. And Prop 57 would give judges and parole boards more discretion to determine people’s sentences and create new incentives for some prisoners to prepare themselves for reentry.
At FWD.us, we believe that America is strongest when everyone has a chance to contribute to our communities and our country. That’s why we’re proud to support these efforts and to learn from those already doing this work, even as we continue our fight to fix our immigration system next Congress.
More information about Prop 57 and State Questions 780 and 781 is available at these websites:
WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us President Todd Schulte released the following statement after Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump exchanged views on fixing our broken immigration system during the third presidential debate:
“Tonight, we heard two distinctly different visions for fixing our broken immigration system and dealing with the 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States. One vision is a policy of mass deportation that transforms America into a police state, hurts our economy, rips families apart, forfeits innovation to competing countries, and turns our backs on nearly 250 years of tradition. The other vision prioritizes reform in the first 100 days of the Administration, embraces a smart approach to strong border security, promotes a policy that keeps families together, facilitates economic growth, and continues our proud history as a nation of immigrants.”
A FOX News poll released yesterday shows that 74 percent of voters support a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants, in favor of deporting them. Among Republicans polled, 60 percent support a path to legalization. The polling also shows a nearly 40 percent reduction in support for mass deportation during this campaign.
WASHINGTON, DC — Following tonight’s Vice Presidential Debate in Farmville, VA, where Vice Presidential Candidates Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence answered questions regarding immigration, FWD.us President Todd Schulte released the following statement:
“Tonight, we were happy to see Senator Kaine again commit to fixing our broken immigration system through bipartisan legislation in 2017, including smart border security and a pathway to citizenship. It was disappointing to hear Governor Pence use euphemisms to try to talk around the actual impact of Donald Trump’s plans to round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants as well as eliminate nearly all legal immigration channels. While it’s sadly understandable why anyone would avoid coming out and saying these mass deportation “plans” would cost $620 billion in new government spending to build a police state, destroy the economy and break up millions of families, tonight made it all the more clear that American voters deserve a clear policy conversation on immigration reform at the next two debates.”