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Response from Undocumented Organizers to Immigration Reform Conversation

In the last few days there have been a number of important announcements on immigration policy and the upcoming conversation on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Amongst the responses to these developments, undocumented immigrant students, workers, and organizers have weighed in on the conversation on CIR, the proposal from the ‘Gang of 8,’ and president Obama’s recent speech on immigration. We present to you, a few excerpts from our top responses from undocumented immigrants. Click on the title links to read the full article. 

NYS Youth Leadership Council Response to Bi-Partisan Immigration Reform Framework

“As undocumented individuals who would most likely be affected by any future “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” bill, we are pleased to see the “Gang of Eight” recognize a pathway to citizenship as a core principle to immigration reform. However, we look forward to learning more about how long this pathway to citizenship would take, as long periods of waiting time are equivalent to a weak reform that does not respect the hardships and uncertainties that undocumented individuals encounter on a daily basis […] We are also deeply skeptical of the call for employers to use E-verify, an electronic employment-verification system, that can be used to discriminate against anyone who happens to look ‘foreign.'”

Gang of 8 Senate Blueprint Provides No Real Pathway to Citizenship
Prerna Lal, Huffington Post

” …the blueprint glosses over the most punitive and problematic parts of the immigration system. The Senate plan fails to address the growing problem of long-term lawful permanent residents who are subject to deportation for minor crimes. Moreover, the blueprint does not modify the prolonged mandatory detention of non-citizens, which makes the immigration system must more punitive than the criminal justice system. The blueprint also fails to address Secure Communities — a misnomer of a policy that subjects immigrants to detention and deportation pre-conviction, violating the fundamental American concept of due process. Finally, the omission of legislation to resolve the issue of 40,000 same-sex binational couples who are forced to live apart, altogether, has much of the immigrant and LGBT communities up in arms.”

Immigrant: Can we trust Obama?
Tania Unzueta, CNN

“I know that the president has a chance to go outside party politics and make significant changes to immigration policy that could stop the suffering of millions of families by stopping deportations and giving work permits to undocumented adults. He was able to do that with young people; why not do the same for our parents?

What the years of disappointment have taught me is that our communities cannot depend on the goodwill of legislators for change. We must make it happen ourselves through organization. And so I am going to continue to fight for the rights of undocumented immigrants and for the happiness of my family.”

Undocumented Activist’s Response to Immigration Reform Plans
Rigo Padilla, Gozamos

“It is true that no immigration reform, whether piecemeal or comprehensive, will ever do justice to the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. However, President Obama and Congress can begin by acknowledging through their proposals that this country is stronger when families are kept united. They could also do so by giving our parents the same opportunity that undocumented youth without significant criminal backgrounds have been offered, such as reprieve  from deportations or work permits and the ability to obtain driver’s licenses through deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). Ultimately, how favorable an immigration reform is and therefore its likelihood of passing will continue to depend on the organizing by undocumented immigrants and allies.”

Obama necesita ‘actos de buena fe’
Martin Unzueta, Chicago Community & Worker’s Rights

“Seria bueno que inteligentemente que el Presidente Obama empezara a dar no solo discursos sino señales de ‘Buena Fe’ señales que indiquen que quiere resolver el problema y empezara a avanzar en lo que si puede hacer sin cambiar la ley. Sugerimos:

1.- Abrir la 245 I.
2.- Abrir sin restricciones o penalidades el proceso de certificación laboral.
3.- Dar paso al Dream Act.
4.- Retornar a la ley de los 10 años.
5.- Parar las 400,00 deportaciones al año que existen.

Eso seria ‘Buena Fe’. Después hablaremos de la reforma migratoria y de que proceso y leyes deberán de ser cambiadas.”

Obama’s Immigration Legacy will be his Presidential Legacy
Jose Antonio Vargas, ABC News

“What’s at stake is President Barack Obama’s legacy.

Will the country’s first minority president be remembered for deporting 1.5 million people, a vast majority of them Latinos–the nation’s fastest-growing group? Or will Obama, the son of a woman from Kansas and a foreign student from Kenya, whose improbable rise to the White House was ushered by an emerging, minority-majority electoral coalition–Latinos, Asians and blacks voting with whites–be remembered for granting citizenship to 11 million new Americans?

Judging by his forceful speech yesterday, the answer is definitely the latter.”

Have more undocumented-authored pieces? Post them as comments or e-mail us to include them. Thanks!

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