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On Human Rights Day, Sharing the Wisdom of Frederick Douglass

December 10, 2012
In an 1869 speech in Boston, abolitionist Frederick Douglass challenged most social observers and politicians by advocating the acceptance of Chinese and Japanese immigrants into the United States. He said: There are such things in the world as human rights. They rest upon no conventional foundation, but are external, universal, and indestructible. Among these, is the right of locomotion; the right of migration; the right which belongs to no particular race, but belongs alike to all and to all alike. It is the right you assert by staying here, and your fathers asserted by coming here. It is...
Benjamin Jealous's picture

Why We All Have a Stake in Comprehensive Immigration Reform

December 10, 2012
I'm reading Junot Diaz's new book and my head is swimming with images of Ana Iris, a Dominican mother of three who hasn't seen her children in seven years. In order to feed them, she's come to New York and works two jobs, one laundering bloody hospital sheets and the other filleting fish. Even though the apartment she shares with several others is freezing in the winter, she sleeps with mosquito netting over her bed, which she folds neatly every morning. How does she survive? "You must not think on these things," she tells her best friend. "Keep them out of your mind. You do not want to go...
Ellen Bravo's picture

Keep Families Together - Fix Our Immigration System Now

December 10, 2012
Maria Bolaños, a Salvadoran woman in Hyattsville, Maryland, called the police out of fear that her partner was going to hurt her. But instead of being protected by the police, she got turned over to immigration. She said, “I feel like I made a mistake calling the police when I was afraid, and worry what will happen to all the women out there when they need help. In my community, people simply do not trust the police, especially after what happened to me. I fear for anyone facing domestic violence, or anyone that witnesses a crime, that they won't call the police for fear of deportation.” Our...
Linda Meric's picture

United to Keep Our Families Together

December 10, 2012
Since the election the headlines have been all about immigration reform and the urgency for Congress to finally get serious about it. As someone who works on immigration policy, I’ve been excited about the momentum that is building. But more importantly, as an advocate for children and as a daughter of immigrants, I’ve been mostly humbled by the way whole communities are beginning to unite around one shared goal: keeping our families together. As Americans, we strongly believe that families belong together. The family unit is at the heart of who we are as a country, and most of us would agree...
Wendy Cervantes's picture

Let’s Stop the Madness of Separating Families

December 10, 2012
I have lived in the United States for 30 years, but I have never forgotten my humble beginnings as an undocumented immigrant. My family and I lived our first years in the US with the fear of being sent back to El Salvador. “La Migra” was a consistent threat in our lives. My personal experience as an immigrant keeps me connected to my community. For many years during my professional life, I worked closely with the Latino immigrant community, and developed deep ties with many families. When ICE began aggressively raiding and detaining immigrants, people I love were deported. A few years ago, I...
Rhina Ramos's picture

Now is Our Chance to Help Keep Immigrant Families Together

December 10, 2012
What would you do if you found out your daughter had a life-threatening illness -- and you had no way to pay for the treatment? 

Would you pack up everything, cross a border, and move to a new country, if it meant the chance to work and earn enough to save her life? 

I’m a mother and I would. In a heartbeat. 

A brave woman whom we'll call "Eva" did exactly that, immigrating to the US to give her daughter with a severe medical condition a chance.

 Once here in California, Eva worked hard, contributed to her community, and did everything she could to build a better life for her loved ones...
Reshma Shamasunder's picture

New Electoral Reality Makes Our Community a Target of a Different Kind

December 10, 2012
I wrote this piece for the Harvard Kennedy School newspaper , where I am a mid-career MPA student. Last year I took a break from community organizing after a heartbreaking loss of the DREAM Act in 2010. As I take this year to read and reflect, I can feel myself pulled back into the fight, especially with so much recent talk about immigration reform being back on the table for 2013. Republicans are falling over themselves to show that they are ready to be a new kind of party, one that will appeal to the growing bloc of Latino and Asian voters that voted overwhelmingly to re-elect the president...
Marissa Graciosa's picture

Immigrant Women Strengthen Our Economy -- and Our Country

December 10, 2012
As a lifelong human rights activist, I’ve never been afraid of controversy. But saying that immigrant women are good for our economy—good for our country —isn’t controversial. It’s common sense. Immigrant women are job creators. They are innovators and entrepreneurs who strengthen our national economy . In fact, women run 40% of all immigrant-owned businesses in the United States. They pay taxes that fix potholes in our roads and keep books on our school’s shelves. They raise families that put money back into the communities we share—at the supermarket, at restaurants, at the dry cleaners. So...
Mallika Dutt's picture

Immigration Reform is Critical for the Health of California and the Country

December 10, 2012
The landmark health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a tremendous starting point for improving the health of communities of color in California and across the country. But to truly achieve lasting progress in the fight against health disparities, we need comprehensive reform of our immigration policies. As advocates, we should celebrate the ACA and be active during its implementation so that everyone who’s eligible for coverage are enrolled in coverage. However, the ACA also highlights the importance of changing the way we as a nation approach immigration...
Ellen Wu's picture

Immigration Reform Picture Not Complete Unless It Includes the Face of Women

December 10, 2012
“Many people cross to seek riches, a truck, a new house, but mothers need to be with their children out of necessity. I am only crossing to see my daughter again, nothing more.” – Maria President Obama recently announced that immigration reform will be a top priority in his second term. As comprehensive immigration reform begins to take shape at long last, it is imperative that we see the face of immigrants for who they really are. According to a Pew Hispanic Research study released this spring, total illegal immigration from Mexico has drastically fallen, but 46% of immigrants still coming...
Kate Kelly's picture