Everybody should have a union…. It gives us a voice. It gives you the power to change things that need to be changed.

~ Leslie Williams, 32BJ Member, New Jersey

Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance Announces Vision for Humane Immigration Reform in State of the Immigrant Community Address

Posted 2/25/13 | Filed in

Hartford– The new Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA), comprised of immigrant families, community leaders and elected officials, announced the launch of a new statewide coalition calling for a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants, an end to family separations, and a moratorium on deportations.

“Fifteen organizations from across the state of Connecticut have come together to push for change at the statewide and national level,” said Ana Maria Rivera, legal and policy analyst at Junta for Progressive Action in New Haven. “The estimated 11,000 undocumented immigrants in Connecticut are facing a human rights and workers’ rights crisis, and we need immigration reform that guarantees human rights now.”

“We are collectively calling on Congress to pass commonsense immigration reform NOW—in 2013,” said Juan Hernandez, assistant area leader for 32BJ SEIU’s Connecticut district. “Reform must include a realistic and attainable roadmap to citizenship that does not relegate immigrants to second-class status, and we are all ready to join forces and keep up the pressure.”

“We are all fighting for comprehensive immigration reform at the state and national level. But let us not forget the people we are fighting for. People who should be included in this fight for immigration reform. Our goal is to find their stories and bring them to the table.” said John Lugo, activist at Unidad Latina en Acción.”

CIRA’s principles for humane immigration reform are:

  • A pathway to citizenship for all 12 million undocumented immigrants that is affordable and accessible to all;
  • The creation of good jobs for both U.S. and immigrant workers by guaranteeing labor rights for all workers and leaving no workers in an exploitable status;
  • Immigration reform that puts human rights first instead of enforcement;
  • Shifting of resources from border security to the creation of real security, health and well-being in our communities;
  • Families should be kept together rather than torn apart;
  • Deportations, raids and detentions of migrants should be suspended, and resources shifted to immigration and citizenship processing;
  • We will not sacrifice one community for another—“good” versus “bad” immigrants, “deserving” versus “undeserving,” DREAM students versus their parents, so-called “criminal” immigrants versus “law-abiding” immigrants, straight versus gay families, men versus women, immigrants currently in the United States versus those yet to come;
  • We need to guarantee human rights and a pathway to citizenship for future immigrants as well as immigrants who are currently here.

Elected officials also spoke to celebrate the launch of CIRA and pledge their support. “As a member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, I look forward to playing a leading role in advancing comprehensive immigration reform,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. “We must provide a pathway to citizenship for our DREAMers as well as their families who work hard every day to improve our communities and provide better lives for their children.”

State Representative Tony Hwang, an immigrant from Taiwan at the age of 8, emphasized his commitment to immigration reform. Hwang said, “We need to advocate and promote an immigration policy that puts human rights first, rather enforcement first. We need to work to understand and appreciate the challenges and obstacles of undocumented immigration and work diligently to create a pathway to citizenship and full participation in the pursuit of the American Dream. I hope we will focus on this issue as a human rights issue affecting all Americans, rather than a politically partisan issue.  I am committed to a bipartisan solution to this critically important social policy.”

Locally, State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield has introduced the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act, a bill designed to allow local governments to submit to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s request to detain an individual if they have a serious or violent felony, but set one cohesive standard for all law enforcement in the state of Connecticut. Once passed, the law would help restore the trust that has been lost between local law enforcement and the community by providing key safeguards against profiling and the wrongful detention of citizens.

“We have expanded immigration enforcement from the federal to the local level, but we have not created more secure communities,” State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield (D-New Haven, Hamden) said. “We have created communities of fear among people who are here for many reasons, including the aspiration to becoming American citizens. We have created communities that avoid interaction with police at all costs; the costs of their health, of acting as witnesses to crimes, at the cost of those of us who were lucky enough to be born in this country. So, I am working on this bill to put in place the protocols to reduce fear, set forth clear policy and do our part to maintain the security of the residents of this state.”

“With the Department of Corrections’ new policy in place, dozens of Connecticut residents who have been released from State custody have gone home to their families instead of being placed in removal proceedings,” said Travis Silva, Yale law student intern at the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization. “The legislature, local police and the judicial marshals should look to the DOC’s policy as a common sense way to keep Connecticut families united.”

The CT Immigration Rights Alliance (CIRA) is a statewide coalition of immigrant, faith, labor, youth, community, business and ally organizations founded to improve the lives of Connecticut’s diverse immigrant community. We seek to strengthen family unity through the pursuit of social justice and civil liberties. We achieve this mission through non-partisan civic engagement, public education, and advocating for workable, fair and humane immigration policies.

The Alliance recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every person, regardless of background and immigration status. We envision a society that treats all women, men, and children with humanity, and allows fair and equal access to employment, housing, health care, and education, as well as the opportunity to live united with family members.

Connecticut Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRA) Member Organizations:
Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission
New Haven People’s Center
32BJ SEIU
Unidad Latina en Acción
Center for Latino Progress
United Action Connecticut
Junta for Progressive Action
Connecticut Students for a Dream
The Immigration Rights Task Force of the Unitarian Society of New Haven
Comunidad del Inmigrante de East Haven
MEChA de Yale
Oficina Católica de Justicia Social de La Arquidiócesis de Hartford
Center for New Economy
Brazilian Immigrant Center
American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut
Apostle Immigrant Services
Connecticut Coalition to Stop Indefinite Detention
Somos Connecticut
African American Affairs Commission
Unite
SEIU-State Council
IRIS
International Institute of Connecticut
Immigration Task Force of the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
Seminarians for a Democratic Society

For More Information

Ana María Rivera-Forastieri, 203-787-0191, ext. 14
Jessica Ramos 347-837-1547
Camila Bortolleto, 203-482-7340