Over 30 Leaders Arrested in a Major Civil Disobedience Action in DC for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

(photos courtesy of http://americasvoiceonline.org)

House Republicans continue to stall progress on immigration reform and a path to citizenship while our families continue to be ripped apart. Yesterday, over 30 leaders, including prominent leaders from the labor movement, tired of being ignored, were arrested in a major civil disobedience action in DC for comprehensive reform that creates a road map to citizenship for 11 million immigrants.

Our unjust immigration policies are leaving children without their parents, wives without their husbands and brothers and sisters without each other. Every day, roughly 1,000 people are deported because the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives is denying the majority of the U.S. Congress a chance to vote on citizenship. 

Speaker Boehner has shown he won’t bring citizenship to a vote unless we force his hand. And some anti-immigrant lawmakers in Speaker Boehner’s party—led by the likes of Rep. Steve King—want to make sure lawmakers create a permanent second class in our country, by not allowing aspiring Americans to become citizens at all. But without a road map to citizenship, our immigration system will not live up to our ideals as Americans.

America is a nation of values, founded on an idea—that all men and women are created equal. This country is a land of freedom and opportunity. 11 million hardworking people deserve the opportunity to participate fully in our democracy. And 435 members of the House of Representatives deserve the opportunity to vote on that road map to citizenship. The time is now to end the moral crisis of deportations in our country, to stop corporations from exploiting vulnerable workers and to work together for solutions. 

How to take action NOW:

1. Sign and forward the petition asking House Speaker John Boehner to bring citizenship to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. 

2.  Call Congress at 888-787-9658 right now and tell them to stop tearing families apart. 

3.  Tweet your support. #immigrationreform; #TimeisNow. Here’s an example:

Retweet if you want #immigrationreform. CALL if you want it now: 888-704-9466. #TimeisNow for the House to act!

4. Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action with APALA-DC!

Statement from APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester on Immigration Bill Passage to Full Senate

Contact: Diana Bui
 

Statement from APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester on

Immigration Bill Passage to Full Senate

May 22, 2013 – Yesterday marked an important step towards fully realized comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate Judiciary Committee successfully passed the immigration bill with a 13-5 bi-partisan vote. Throughout the two week process, we saw many victories and lost ground with some amendments including family unity for siblings, adult children, and same sex bi-national couples. As the bill moves to the full Senate and in the House, the fight and our work, continues.

I applaud champions such as Senator Richard Blumenthal who offered many amendments that passed on worker protections including labor recruitment regulations to combat trafficking and abuses. Cases like those of the Grand Isle Shipyard workers recruited from the Philippines to Louisiana under false pretenses and harsh conditions will be prevented in the future. Employment based immigration must be transparent, humane and close the loopholes on predatory practices.

The leadership and courage of Senator Mazie Hirono showed the nation that key issues affecting Asian American and Pacific Islanders matter. We thank Senator Hirono and supporters of family reunification for Filipino World War II veterans and access to federal financial aid for DREAMers. Our community has been organizing for years across generations for both the veterans and DREAMers. While I am hopeful for progress, APALA members and allies will continue to mobilize and protect the roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens.

The largest and deepest cut to our communities is the exclusion of siblings, adult children over 31 years of age, and same-sex bi-national couples from family reunification. Senator Hirono and Senator Leahy were shutdown on their amendments to expand the definition of family. I am personally impacted by family reunification and am extremely disappointed that family unity has become a bargaining chip.

Community and labor across the country will continue to make our voices heard and watch closely as comprehensive immigration reform continues to the full Senate. We will make calls, mobilize in district and share our stories to urge members of congress to stand on the right side of history. The time is now for commonsense legislation.

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The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO was founded in 1992 as the first and only national organization for Asian Pacific American union members to advance worker, immigrant and civil rights. For more information, visit www.apalanet.org and follow@APALAnational

My Story on Why Time Is Now for Commonsense Immigration Reform

By Ann Marie Tran, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Intern

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On April 10th worker, immigrant and civil rights advocates, including many members the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) from multiple states will be a part of rally in support of citizenship for the 11 million Americans who are undocumented at West lawn of the Capital.

I will be present at the rally in support of my own family members and friends who have/had once arrived in the United States as aspiring citizens. I have witnessed their struggles and successes and hope to stand amongst other allies and constituents, who will be taking their personal stories to the members of Congress on April 10th to advocate for a more reasonable and humane roadmap to citizenship.

The immigrant community deserves the right to a reasonable pathway to citizenship, protection and civil rights in the workplace, viable resources to integrate into American society and community without discrimination practices in enforcement, better conditions and judiciary system regarding detention, improved health care system, and, lastly, equal treatment for all regardless of status, gender, age, and sexual orientation.

As a first generation daughter of Vietnamese refugee immigrants, I have first hand experience with the hardships and struggles as well as the accomplishments achieved by my parents and other aspiring Americans.

At about age 20, both my parents were forced by the politics of the Vietnam War to migrate from their homeland to the United States. Once we arrived, they saw the opportunity to create a new and improved life for themselves, my sisters and me.

To help us fall asleep, they would sing us lullabies in sweet melodies of broken English rather than symphonies of gunshots and crescendos of dropping bombs. We complained about our plates full of unwanted vegetables unaware of our mother’s experience in a refugee camp surviving off of small portions of expired food. In exchange for the long hours of work, which limited their interaction with each other to only 30 minutes a day for first few years, my parents earned enough to ensure we have access to a quality education.

My sisters and I are products of the hard work and sacrifices that many immigrant families similarly put forth to support their families.

I plan on not only attending the rally on Wednesday, April 10, I also will hold the experiences of my parents close to me and remember them as chant, “The Time Is Now.” I look forward to being a part of the history that brought my parents to America as well as fighting for the security and welfare of all immigrants who share the same goals of a brighter future.

Will you join me? For more information for the Rally for Citizenship, visit: http://www.citizenship-now.org/ or email APALA’s DC Chapter President Katrina Dizon at Katrina.Dizon@gmail.com.

Ann Marie Tran is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of California Santa Cruz. She is a double major in Sociology and History of Art & Visual Cultures as well as a minor in Education. She is currently a participant of the University of California at Washington DC (UCDC) program through which she is interning with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). 

APALA DC Participates in AALEAD Youth Summit

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Last Saturday, DC Chapter officers of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) walked the hallways of St. Augustine Church in downtown D.C to participate in a youth summit hosted by Asian American Leadership, Empowerment and Development in Youth and Families (AALEAD). As the sounds of young voices filled the room, one may have been fooled by what this group was about. Instead of discussing the newest television or music fad, they spoke about immigration, organizing and their culture.

The summit itself brought together 60 local students to learn and discuss topics relevant to the younger AAPI community such as Bullying, Navigating Asian American Families, APAs in Media, etc. With the growing presence of young Asian Americans in the Greater DMV area, AALEAD has aimed to create a space to develop up and coming leaders by connecting them to their peers, creating outlets for them to get involved in their community, expanding their understanding of AAPI issues and providing a safe space for coalition building.

APALA-DC, along with 11 other organizations, was fortunate to have participated in this first ever Youth Summit by hosting a workshop on Immigrant Rights and Civic Engagement. With the launch of APALA’s Jon Delloro Mentorship Program in July 2010, and its first ever Young Leaders Council back in April, it has been one of the organization’s primary focuses to actively engage and educate young people on labor unions, workers’ rights, and civic participation.

The workshop conducted at AALEAD carried on this mission by talking to summit participants about the history of struggle in the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community and challenged them to continue the fight in the present, by using tools such as organizing and social media. The workshop concluded with small break out discussions to address concerns within their own communities and to share stories about their vision for the future.

One of the participants, born in the U.S and of Vietnamese heritage, spoke about taking a day off from school with some of his classmates to participate in an action involving the Maryland DREAM Act. He told the class about how he ventured out to the Senate offices to speak directly with their Senator about why he believed it was important to vote for the bill.

 Many in the workshop also shared personal stories about their families’ own immigration challenges and what they did to overcome those hurdles. The end of the experience was quite fulfilling. The students ended the session by saying they did not realize there were so many ways to become engaged in their own community, and they seemed enthusiastic for further involvement.

APALA-DC Participates in NaFAA Civic Engagement Conference in Virginia Beach

Photo Credit: Jon Melegrito

This Saturday, APALA-DC President, Katrina Dizon joined DNC AAPI Outreach Director, Naomi Tacuyan Underwood and other members of APALA-DC and KAYA-DC (formerly Filipino Americans for Obama) at the National Federation of Filipino American Association’s (NaFAA) Capital Region Civic Engagement Conference. Several local officials and leaders in the Filipino American community were invited to discuss the obstacles and strategies in getting out the vote in the Virginia Beach community, which has historically been a high density Filipino American area. The event was attended by approximately 70 participants.

Dizon and Tacuyan spoke on a panel entitled “U.S. Elections 2012-Issues & Civic Engagement”. While Tacuyan presented the landscape of Filipino American voting patterns and the potential impact on their community, Dizon spoke to the issues that affect them.

“I wanted to speak to the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, as Filipinos have one of the highest undocumented immigrant populations in the U.S. among all other AAPI groups,” said Dizon. “APALA-DC has been on the forefront of this debate and we will continue to work with our allies to fight toward a just immigration system.”

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress Nominate APALA-DC Member for 2011 Unsung Hero Honor

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress unveil their 2011 Unsung Heroes and we are proud to announce that APALA-DC’s very own member, Aileen Mercado has made the cut!

“Unsung Heroes were selected for championing the hard progressive values in 2011, before it was cool, in what I consider to be a somewhat hostile political climate (read: attacks on women’s health, immigration, voting rights, etc),” says Olivia Chow of APAP. Read more about the mechanics of the competition here.

Aileen has been instrumental in advocating for the rights of international teachers in Baltimore County through her active participation in her union. She is the first and only international teacher to become a Board member of the Baltimore Teachers Union, a local of AFT. To learn more about Aileen’s nomination, click here.

Let’s Urge Maryland Youth to Keep on DREAMing

2010 Rally for the Federal DREAM Act

Around this time last year, millions of undocumented youth, their family, friends, and immigrant rights activists around the country sat back in disappointment as they witnessed the failure of the Senate to muster up the votes to advance the federal DREAM Act. It was a huge let down after it flew through the House just days before.

Months later in Maryland, however, DREAMers rejoiced as the state version of the bill, allowing undocumented youth to pay in state tuition for college, passed both houses in the legislature in April. Unfortunately, the celebration was short lived as Republicans organized an online petition that effectively gathered 100,000 signatures opposing the bill, causing a halt in its implementation until a statewide public referendum next year.

An uphill battle for comprehensive immigration reform has raged on through the years, and thousands of DREAM act eligible students continue to look for hope amidst a system with seemingly insurmountable odds. With our community in need of talented and dedicated citizens and our country in need of more highly qualified workers, it boggles the mind how some can refuse what many say is such a common sense piece of legislation that will help grow the economy and diversify the workforce to make it more competitive. With so many passionate young people who love the country and who love their home state of Maryland, only positive things can come about the implementation of the Maryland DREAM Act. Why not give these young people the chance to give back to their community in the best way they know how?

Fortunately, this is one of the questions that were addressed at the Maryland & District of Columbia, AFL-CIO 28th Biennial Convention on November 19. As hundreds of labor leaders, community affiliates and allies gathered at the National Labor College to discuss local priorities in the next few years, the Maryland DREAM Act was one of the issues that took center stage. Lead by the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), several of the AFL-CIO constituency groups including the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Pride at Work (PAW) and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), submitted a resolution which unanimously passed on the Convention floor. “Many local unions have already been working with Casa de Maryland in support of the Maryland DREAM Act, but now we can say that the hundreds of thousands of MD/DC AFL-CIO union members – from electrical workers to educators to postal workers – all stand in solidarity with these students and their families,” said Monica Thammarath, APALA-DC Convention delegate and Senior Liaison at the National Education Association (NEA).