Michigan United rallies for Congress to pass immigration reform bill

From the Detroit News:

Shouting “Pass that bill” and carrying signs reading “Keeping families together,” local activists Wednesday called for lawmakers to pass an immigration reform bill they say would lift burdensome restrictions, allow foreign-born workers to stay in their communities and boost the economy.

“We’re here today because we know that it is not right to hold 11 million undocumented workers hostage,” Pastor Charles Williams Sr. of the National Action Network said to cheers during a press conference on the steps of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in southwest Detroit.

The event was organized by Michigan United, a statewide coalition of churches, labor and community groups that advocates for immigration reform, fair housing and worker rights.

It came the same day the 844-page bipartisan bill was introduced.

The “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system, ushering in new visa programs for low- and high-skilled workers, requiring a tough new focus on border security, instituting a new requirement for all employers to check the legal status of their workers and installing a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Those who have been deported would have the opportunity to come back to the U.S. if their spouses or children are in the country.

Some Republicans criticized the bill as amnesty, while some groups on the left said it was unnecessarily punitive.

President Barack Obama said the bill is a compromise that doesn’t give anyone everything they want. But he urged the Senate to move it forward.

Supporters with Michigan United and other groups across Metro Detroit said the legislation would keep immigrant families together. “This bill is a way for families to be reunited,” Williams said.

The push for the reform is especially urgent for Arlen Villanueva-Ordoñez, a single mother of two originally from Honduras. The Belleville resident, who has been in the U.S. for more than a decade, faces deportation proceedings next month.

She has no criminal record, works full time and pays taxes every year, said her attorney, Brad Thomson. Her youngest child, who was born here, has life-threatening food allergies and a skin condition that renders him sensitive to UV radiation. Villanueva-Ordoñez also has health issues and fears she would have inadequate medical care in her homeland.

Deportation would destroy her family, she said. “I don’t want to be separated from them because that is my life.”

Grand Rapids Joins National Push for Reform

From MLive:

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Many of the more than 100 West Michigan residents who traveled to Washington, D.C. for today’s national immigration reform rally hope their show of solidarity is rewarded with a comprehensive immigration bill.

They hope the gathering will pressure their representatives to change the law and allow 11 million unauthorized immigrants to legally stay in the county and provide them a pathway to citizenship.

The West Michigan contingent, who were to arrive at the nation’s capital Wednesday morning after an overnight bus trip, are a diverse group pushing for a common goal. Some want to see immigrants be granted the same opportunity they were handed years ago.

Hundreds of Michigan Residents Head to DC Immigration Rally

From MLive: http://www.freep.com/article/20130409/NEWS06/304090208/national-immigration-rally-Michigan

About 500 immigrants and their supporters left tonight from Michigan on 14 buses headed to Washington, D.C. for a national immigration rally tomorrow.

The buses left from Dearborn, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor for a rally in the nation’s capital calling for immigration reform that they hope will offer the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. a clear path to citizenship.

Members of the immigrant group Michigan United and the union United Auto Workers are among the hundreds from Michigan on their way to Washington D.C. for the demonstration. They are also expected to meet with Congressman to push for immigration reform.


‘Dr. Evil’ makes April Fools appearance in Detroit foreclosure crisis demonstration

From MLive.com

DETROIT, MI – Debbi Adams has spent the last two years struggling to hold onto her home, and she believes the firing of a federal official could make it easier for thousands of homeowners to fight off foreclosure.

After being laid off in 2011, Adams fell behind on mortgage payments and started a long process of trying to modify her loan, struggling for months with basic steps like finding out which bank held her mortgage.

“I fought very hard to keep my home,” said Adams of Detroit. “I had to go to court. There was an organization that stood up for me and I was able to save my house. It was a long hassle that ended up, for me, positively, but for so many people, they give up.”

Good Friday prayer rally in Kalamazoo calls on Congressman Upton to support immigration reform

From MLive.com

KALAMAZOO, MI — When David Mata was a senior in high school, he thought he was on his way to fulfilling his dream of being a doctor. Then the native of Mexico found out he was an unauthorized immigrant.

“I had to turn down two full-ride scholarships,” said Mata. He couldn’t find a university to accept him until he applied toWestern Michigan University. In June, Mata, who was one of two university students in the state to receive a prestigious Michigan Society of Neuroscience grant, among other awards, will graduate with a master’s degree in science. He is currently applying to medical schools.

Grand Rapids crowd protests separation of families due to immigration laws

From MLive.com

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—A crowd of 50 people marched several blocks from downtown’s Calder Plaza to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Friday, March 29 as a way to remember the families who have been separated by immigration laws.

Joyce Herdog, a Dominican sister, told participants before the march that Good Friday is “the perfect occasion to remember Jesus’ message. “He made no distinctions. His love embraces all of us,” said Herdog.

AIR/MOP announces Michigan will join thousands of demonstrators in national march!

From the Detroit News:

Dearborn — Cindy Garcia fears that when her husband, Jorge Armando Garcia, is sent back to Mexico in May, he’ll be forced to stay there, separated from her and their three children.

While Garcia and her children, ages 18, 10 and 7, are American citizens, she’s fighting for what supporters say will be a fair pathway for her husband and other immigrants to gain citizenship.

AIR/MOP launches national campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform for EVERYONE!

From CBS:

DETROIT (WWJ) – A rally was held outside of St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Southwest Detroit part of an ongoing push for reforms to U.S. immigration laws.

Groups that make-up the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform Michigan are calling for reforms that would remove obstacles like extended background checks that keep families separated for as long as 10 years. They’re also calling for new laws that would require potential offenders to be targeted based on their actions and not on ethnicity.

Dreamers Win Driver’s Licenses!

From MLive:

Ryan Bates of the Alliance for Immigration Rights and Reform Michigan, who helped organize student protest at the Capitol last year, said the state’s new DACA policy was fueled by young people like Martinez who will play an important role in the drive toward comprehensive immigration reform.

“It was an effort by students themselves, leading and taking action along with a broad coalition of labor and civil rights leaders,” he said. “They were able to reverse a pretty confrontational policy towards immigrants. This bodes really well for comprehensive immigration reform and shows we have a lot of momentum heading into the big fight.”

Michigan immigrants and advocates from around the state are expected to visit the nation’s capital in early April for a “Keep Families Together” rally. AIR is helping to organize buses from Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.