Candidates hear concerns of constituents on jobs, healthcare, immigration
Many of the leading candidates in the race to fill John Conyers Jr.’s seat in the US house heard from the people they seek to represent Saturday in a candidate forum held Detroit’s New Providence Baptist Church. Detroit City Council president, Brenda Jones, mayor of Westland Bill Wild and state senator Coleman Young Jr. answered questions from constituents about the issues they deal with every day. State senator Ian Conyers and former state representative, Rashida Tlaib were also invited but couldn’t appear due to scheduling conflicts.
Paul Johnson III of the Disability Network of Wayne County wanted to know who supported a public program for elder care that would guarantee seniors access to quality, affordable long-term care. “I am lifelong Detroiter who has learned the value of assisting others from his Parents.” Johnson told the candidates. “I have had to overcome learning disabilities always treating customer, friends and all others with compassion. “
A teacher in Detroit bravely told the story of how she had been impacted by sexual harassment. Gevonchai Hudnall said a man who had power over her made sexually suggestive comments at work, making her feel deeply uncomfortable, embarrassed, intimidated, and afraid for her job. She challenged the candidates to stand up for survivors of sexual assault on campus. “ I am glad we are now living in the #MeToo moment, and we are seeing an important shift in our culture.” Hudnall said. “Sexual harassment and assault must no longer be tolerated. Campuses are one place where we must continue to fight and ensure that students are safe.”
Rokhyatou Toure (ROCK-key-ah-too too-RAY), a member of African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs (ABISA), came to protect what remains of her family after aggressive immigration enforcement that took her father, Katim last month despite having lived peacefully in Michigan for 29 years. “If elected, we expect one of you to be a champion for immigrant communities and refugees.” Toure told the candidates. “ It is time for a Compassionate Immigration Reform, that focuses, ONLY in legalization and the reunification of separated families, NOT one more dollar for deportations. Our loved ones are being stolen away from us and deported, simply for driving to work, or for showing up to their court appointments. Immigration authorities don’t even care if the spouse or children are American citizens.”
Since no Republicans have been nominated to run in the 13th district this year, whoever wins the Democratic primary on August 7th will be unopposed in the general election in November.
Wife says loss of Jorge does not make America safer
The wife of Jorge Garcia, the man infamously deported on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, says a statement made during a recent CNN interview has been twisted around to make it appear as though she is somehow not upset that her family has been torn apart. Cindy Garcia said in her comment that she could not be mad at Trump for protecting Americans, but did so to contrast the fact that her husband has never posed a threat to anyone. Her true point was that Jorge had not broken a single law since he was brought to the United States at the age of 10.
“President Trump was not doing his job when he deported my husband. He was pandering to racists. I do NOT forgive President Trump for what he’s done to my family and I could not possibly be more angry with him right now!” Garcia now says. “Let me be clear. The president is not making America safer. He is a liar. What he IS doing is tearing families apart, families like mine. He’s taking good parents away from American children like mine.”
In the meantime, the Garcia family is working with the American consulate in Mexico to get a waiver of Jorge’s deportation and of the 10 year waiting period to reunite the family.
Congressman takes stand for DACA recipients, immigrant families under attack
US Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL4) made several stops around Detroit Friday ahead of his keynote address at the People’s Governor Forum. First he went to the Central United Methodist church to meet the Rranxburaj family who has taken sanctuary there to avoid deportation. Next, he went to the Arab American museum in Dearborn where he discussed the fight against a Muslim ban with an audience from the predominantly Muslim community. His last stop was a El Nacimiento restaurant where he held a town hall meeting and sat on a panel with DACA recipients to talk about how the debate over the Dream Act would impact their lives and the lives of their families.
“You know what the ransom is. It’s not the wall. They offered him $25 billion dollars for the wall. He wants to end legal immigration to the United States of America.” Rep. Gutierrez told the audience in an opening statement. “They want us to pick and choose among ourselves… That is going to be unacceptable because we are going to stand and fight for this immigration system we have in the United States.”
Gutierrez said President’s Trump’s promise to “Make America great again” only serves to send America back into its dark past. “He wants to see women back in the kitchen; He’d like to see gay people go back in the closet. He’d like to see black people in the back of the bus and us, Latinos, ‘Just shut up. Don’t even exist. You’re nothing. You don’t get a vote.’ That’s what we’re confronting.”
Gutierrez sat with Xochitl Cossyleon and Maria Ibarra, two area DACA recipients, to field questions about the state of the Dream Act, proposed legislation that would make protections for immigrant youth permanent.
Ibarra sees an intersection between immigration and the criminal justice system. She wants to break down barriers between immigrant communities and other communities of color. “Divide and conquer is an actual tactic that works. So we have to be strategic and build relationships and understand that our fights and our plights are connected.”
Cossyleon feels it is important to continue to hold Democrats feet to the fire on the Dream Act. “You need to support us when it counts with your votes.” said Cossyleon. “If we can’t count on Democrats who say they are with us, then turn flakey when we need them the most, then what are we going to do?”
Trump’s rejection of bipartisan compromise results in shutdown
Both of Michigan’s US Senators have sided with immigrant youth in the federal budget battle. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, after much pressure and consideration, have decided not to support a budget resolution that does not include protections for “Dreamers”, undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children by their parents. The DREAM Act, an amendment that would codify protections offered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, is popular among the overwhelming majority of Americans, but sadly, not with Republican leadership in the House, Senate nor the Oval Office.
Despite having publicly said “Bring me a deal. I’ll sign it. I’ll take the heat.”, President Trump has twice rejected bipartisan deals brought to him. This is because he has deferred to extremists in his party who would not accept the DREAM Act under any circumstances. As a result, the GOP has decided they would rather shut down than government than accept any compromise
It wasn’t until hours before the deadline for the government shutdown that Sens. Peters and Stabenow conceded how futile negotiations had become. What would another month extension change for the extremists who won’t accept a bipartisan compromise?
We at Michigan United commend Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters for choosing to stand with immigrant youth and their families and against racist policy. We look forward to the day that our nation’s leaders come to their senses and we can agree to reopen the government and restore protections for immigrant youth.
Groups from across nation converged on five most racist opponents
The fight to include legislation to protect immigrant youth reached a fever pitch Thursday as 25 people decided to be arrested rather than quietly allow Dreamers to slip back into the shadows to live in fear of deportation again. Member organizations of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) sent activists to the offices of the five most racist opponents of the Dream Act, legislation that would codify Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA).
A 20 person strong delegation went into the office of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to insist he end his opposition to the widely popular, bipartisan DREAM ACT. When they were told a meeting could not be arranged at that time, the delegation began a sit-in protest. Capitol police moved them into the hallway where they began chanting outside Sen. Cotton’s door. When they were told to disperse, five people held their ground and continued to speak out until they were arrested.
Arkansas resident, Gabriel Lopez along with four allies from Michigan United and Cosecha, Rosa Fraga, Lorena Aguyo-Marquez, Patrick Wigent and Kathleen Underwood were taken into custody but soon released and fined. Although his staff claimed they couldn’t schedule a meeting before the five were arrested, Sen. Cotton agreed to meet with DACA recipients from Arkansas by the time they got out.
“I’m doing this because Cesar Chavez, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders fought for my rights and now it’s my duty to fight for the civil rights of others like the Dreamers.” said Fraga. “If we don’t get a clean Dream Act here, a lot of young immigrants are going to lose out on jobs and educational opportunities before March.” She said of the final day of the DACA program. “But even though it’s really popular, our congresspeople don’t seem to want to give it to us. That’s why we’re here. To stand up for the people and give voice to the voiceless.”
“Republicans control Congress and the white house it’s their responsibility to govern and represent their constituents.” said Aguayo-Marquez “The overwhelming majority of Americans, over 80%, support a DREAM Act bill, including more than 60% of Trump voters. It’s time for Congress to do the right thing and pass a clean DREAM Act. Everyday that goes by more families that would qualify get separated, like the Garcia family. Congress must stop caving in to the demands of the most extreme white supremacists and actually do what the Majority of Americans want, which is to pass a clean DREAM Act and pass a budget to keep the government open. That’s why I am risking arrest.”
On Thursday night, Republican leadership proposed a stop-gap spending measure that would keep the government funded into the new year, but it did not include the DREAM Act, legislation that would codify protections for immigrant youth once offered by the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Program. The continuing budget resolution passed along party lines with a 66-32 vote.
Immigrants rights advocates have loudly called for Senators not to vote for any budget measure that leaves out the DREAM Act, and 32 Democrats stood with them. Most notably, Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow were not among them.
Every day, 122 immigrant youth lose their DACA protections and become eligible for deportation. Allies of immigrant youth need to be courageous and refuse to allow Republicans to move forward without providing immediate relief.
On January 22nd, the budget will again be up for a vote. Senators Stabenow and Peters will have another opportunity to do the right thing. A vote for the budget without the DREAM Act is a vote to leave immigrant youth out in the cold yet again. We at Michigan United would find that wholly unacceptable.