Falls Church, VA – On Saturday, March 9, more than 150 immigrant rights activists from across the Commonwealth met at the Culmore United Methodist Church in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The organizations presented the details of a multi-tiered statewide campaign to garner support from the Virginia Congressional Delegation.
The group came out in support of principles that include a direct path to citizenship for all qualifying individuals who currently reside in the United States; the reunification of families by eliminating immigration backlogs; building trust between immigrant communities and local police by limiting state and local enforcement of federal immigration law and strengthening our economy by protecting workers’ rights and providing access to education for all to meet Virginia’s need for a trained workforce.
"Now is the time," said Tim Freilich, Legal Director of the Legal Aid Justice Center's Immigrant Advocacy Program. "Virginia calls on Congress to pass common sense immigration reform that respects our principles. Here in Virginia we believe in family unity. We believe in the dignity of every individual. We believe that reform should build trust in our communities and strengthen our economy. We believe we should honor our history as a nation of immigrants. To respect these Virginia principles, immigration reform must include a short and direct path to citizenship for aspiring citizens already in the United States."
"Frank Wolf should pay close attention to meetings like this one," said Awatramani. "His constituents came out in large numbers today and they are going to get thousands of their neighbors to tell Representative Wolf what he already knows, that Virginia wants immigration reform, and the time for reform is now."
"Virginia Organizing is honored to be working on immigration reform with such a diverse coalition of groups in the state," said Sandra A. Cook, Chairperson of Virginia Organizing. "We will continue to work hard to raise the voices of people across the Commonwealth who are affected by these issues. Respecting the dignity of every individual and offering a short and direct path to citizenship is important to us."
"For 2013, NAKASEC will continue to organize and advocate for immigration reform for our Korean American and Asian American community, with a focus for a direct path to citizenship" said Dong Yoon, Program Associate from the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium.
“Virginia stakeholders are joining together and organizing for immigration reform which is an issue that impacts all Americans," stated Brent Wilkes, Executive Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. We hope to galvanize the support from individuals representing different sectors from across Virginia. It’s in our interest to welcome all aspiring citizens and promote economic integration to continue building and moving our state forward.”
"Virginians from all walks of life, including business owners, professionals, students, blue and white collar workers, faith leaders, non-profit leaders, and advocates worked together to strategize on the best way to influence our representatives in Washington DC to urge them to pass an immigration reform this year and to uphold the VA principles to strengthen families by eliminating the immigration backlogs" said Leni Gonzalez, President of LULAC Council 4609 and member of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO).
Aurora Vásquez, Co-Executive Director of Tenants and Workers United said, "TWU is confident this statewide coalition is precisely what Virginia needs in order to ensure its part in the emergence of balanced and timely immigration reform for the nation and all Virginians."
“Today was a huge leap forward for immigration reform. We urge all who want immigration reform to step up and volunteer with the Virginia Coalition for Immigrants Rights,” stated Jon Liss, executive director of Virginia New Majority.
Host organizations included ACLU of Virginia, Centreville Immigration Forum (CIF), Coalition of Asia Pacific Americans of Virginia (CAPAVA), Just Neighbors, Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program (LAJC), League of United Latin American Citizens Council 4609 (LULAC VA), National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), Social Action Linking Together (SALT), Tenants and Workers United, Virginia Organizing, Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO), Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and Virginia New Majority.