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By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

Over the past year, the calls for action on immigration reform have been loud and unwavering.  Activists have been arrested for staging sit-ins at their congressional representatives’ offices, DREAMers and their families have risked deportation to bring attention to the cause, and thousands have marched on Washington demanding that Congress do something to fix our broken immigration system.  But sometimes the quietest acts of political protest can be the most powerful.

This week I visited the National Mall, just a stone’s throw away from the capitol, and walked into a tent with a sign that said “Day 9 of Fasting.”  Inside sat a group of advocates who have been fasting to draw attention to the impact of our broken immigration system on families across the country.  As one of the fasters said, the group looks like America.  The fasters are from different backgrounds, different ages, and different parts of the country, but they are all committed to a common cause: the fight for families to stay together.  And they have been joined by leaders and advocates from across the nation, including members of Congress and faith leaders, who are fasting for a day in solidarity.

As I looked at my friend Eliseo Medina, a longtime advocate with the Service Employees International Union, it struck me—despite the hunger he must have been feeling after nine days without food, the only thing I could see in his eyes was resolve and determination. The personal sacrifice that Eliseo and all those participating in the Fast for Families have made exemplifies the strength and spirit of the immigration reform movement.  Whether they are hungry or tired, these advocates persist, sending a clear message that this movement will not give up regardless of the obstacles thrown in front of us.  The fasters told me that they have gained strength from the community leaders they’ve met and the stories they’ve heard. 

We know that the pain of hunger is temporary.  But the devastation that thousands of families feel every day when they are ripped apart by deportation is life-changing.  As one of the fasters said to me, “Our own suffering pales in comparison to the suffering of those impacted by the broken immigration system.”  The fear, exploitation, and harassment that undocumented immigrants encounter in this country is unacceptable and should not go on one day longer.

I am deeply moved by the compassion and sacrifice of the fasters here in Washington and across the country.  It is past time that our leaders in Congress show the same compassion to the 11 million aspiring Americans living in this country who want nothing more than a chance to earn their citizenship.  We need a solution and we need it soon.  For every day that Congress waits and for every excuse that Congress makes, our resolve only grows that much stronger.  And if they looked into the same eyes that I looked into this week, our lawmakers would know that there is no way we are going to give up now.
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Comment Preferences

  •  So What You're Suggesting Ms. Murguía (0+ / 0-)

    But the devastation that thousands of families feel every day when they are ripped apart by deportation is life-changing

    Is that if someone is in the U.S. illegally, and they have family in the U.S., they should be immune from deportation?

    How would you suggest this be codified into law, and where is the disincentive to enter the U.S. illegally and then claim that you are immune from deportation because you have family in the U.S.?

    Families are ripped apart when a parent is sent to jail for a crime as well. Are you then suggesting that we stop prosecuting criminals because this would result in 'families being torn apart'?

    It is past time that our leaders in Congress show the same compassion to the 11 million aspiring Americans

    Please. According to the latest DHS figures 62% of all illegal immigrants are from Mexico. As of 2009 only 28% of all illegal immigrants from Mexico who were granted amnesty under IRCA have gone through the naturalization process.

    I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

    by superscalar on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 02:20:31 PM PST

    •  Nice false equivalencies there, Tex! (0+ / 0-)

      Immigration law rivals tax law in its complexity, but go ahead and make it all about Mexicans.

      Let's see:  "That sounds a bit unkind.  I doubt you meant it that way."

      ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

      by slowbutsure on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 02:45:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Where Is The False Equivalency? (0+ / 0-)

        Is Ms. Murguía not suggesting that because some has family in the U.S. they should not be deported, and did I somewhere say that immigration law was simple?

        As to my 'making it all about Mexicans', the facts are the facts.

        Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2010

        Mexico continued to be the leading source country of unauthorized immigration to the United States (seeTable 3).There were 6.6 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico in 2010, representing 62 per- cent of the unauthorized population.The next leading source coun- tries for unauthorized immigrants in 2010 were El Salvador (620,000), Guatemala (520,000), Honduras (330,000), and the Philippines (280,000).

        Naturalization Rates among IRCA Immigrants:A 2009 Update

        Although the rates were lower for IRCA-provision immigrants in general, controlling for differences in country of origin demon- strates the prior legal status generalization to be an oversimplifica- tion. IRCA immigrants were disproportionately born in Mexico (see Figure 1), and naturalization rates have historically been low for the Mexican-born (Rytina, 2002, Baker, 2007). Naturalization rates were actually higher for pre-1982s than for other immigrants when distinguishing between those born in Mexico and those born in other countries (46 vs. 37 percent for those born in Mexico and 68 vs. 61 percent for those born in other countries). Naturalization rates for those born in countries other than Mexico were equivalent for SAWs and other immigrants (60 percent for both). Among those born in Mexico, however, rates were indeed lower for SAWs (28 percent) than for other immigrants (36 percent).

        I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

        by superscalar on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 02:55:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  By The Way (0+ / 0-)

          6.6 million Mexican illegal immigrants versus a very distant number two, El Salvador, at 620,000?

          I think that we can safely say that, yes, when we are talking about illegal immigration to the U.S. it really is, to use your words 'all about Mexicans'.

          I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

          by superscalar on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 03:02:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  superscaler - a waste of time asking questions (0+ / 0-)

      In two years this author has published 93 diaries and had 99 comments, including tip jars. Don't expect any answers or engagement from this diary author. In my view just another progressive organization that drops hit and run diaries at the site and isn't engaged.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 02:52:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You sound like somebody who would... (0+ / 0-) forcing us into exile if you had your way.

      I suppose that means that you're not exactly our allay.

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