*Demand the President Use His Authority to Stop the Deportations: “The road to legislation leads through the gate at the White House.”
*Begins National Petition and Action Campaign
*Congressman Gutierrez and Elvira Arellano Join Forces Again as the Human Rights Leader Returns to the Struggle in the U.S.
From Sanctuary National
March 29, 2014
Congressman Luis Gutierrez joined with Familia Latina Unida co-founder Elvira Arellano on Thursday, March 27th, in a homecoming for the now famous human rights leader. Yet the two veterans of the immigration struggle were not looking backwards. They joined with a delegation of over 300 Pastors and another 1500 community leaders outside the Federal Building to set a clear demand for the movement for the next 90 days.
“First, we want the President to use his executive authority to extend the deferments he gave the dreamers to their parents and the parents of U.S. citizen children while Congress remains paralyzed by politics.
Second, we want the President to extend emergency parole status to deported parents with U.S. citizen or dreamer children who are under threat of kidnapping and extortion so that they can return in safety to the U.S. while they pursue requests for asylum.
Gutierrez explained his recent negotiations with the President. “The president has asked for 90 days to see if the Republican Congress will finally act. If not, he has committed to the use of bold executive authority.”
Familia Latina Unida Co-Chair Emma Lozano joined Elvira Arellano in calling for 90 days of action. “We must stand against every single deportation and we must stand with every single family that has been separated to reunite them. We must organize mass civil disobedience. We must march and march and march until the streets are filled with our millions.
“We have been promised before – and we have lived with broken promises. This time we must build such a movement that this promise will be respected – and kept in full!”
The popular Congressman explained that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has a list of legally sanctioned executive orders. We will check them off one by one, beginning with the extension of the deferments with work permits to the families. While the Congressman held high hopes for Presidential action if the Congress remains paralyzed, Arellano and Lozano remain convinced that only sustained action around the specific demands could finally bring relief to millions of families. “We have suffered two million deportations. Our children are suffering. We must sand up with one voice as one united community.”
What is clear now is that the road to passing legislation leads through the White House door of executive action. The threat of executive action is the only hope of bringing the congress to act. The reality of executive action is the only way reactionary members of the Republican caucus can be brought to the table.
“We have wasted too much time knocking at the door of Republican Congressmen. Our unified vote convinced Republican Party leaders that their party can never win the White House unless they pass immigration reform, but they cannot act without rank and file Republicans. Those rank and file Republicans will never act to pass immigration reform as long as the President is deporting 1100 people a day – as long as the President is doing what they want.
“We will focus our demand on the White House and build a national base of support for executive action in the next 90 days. That is the challenge we must meet – the challenge we will meet,” said Lozano. Congressman Gutierrez committed to be with those who marched for Presidential action – “wherever or whenever.”
Arellano spoke with passion about the families – and the children - still held in detention on the border as they tried to find safety for their U.S. citizen children from life and death threats in Mexico. Lozano asked how it was possible that the safety of Latino children could be met with such indifference by the U.S. government. “If these were anglo children under threat of kidnapping and murder in some country in the middle east this nation would call out the army. Our Latino children just don’t get the same respect from this government.”
Speaker after speaker criticized the Obama administration for the assault on the Latino family and accused the President of treating Latino families as “disposables” in the political battles between Democrats and Republicans.
“The President has the opportunity to redeem himself, to redeem his broken promises. It is up to us to hold him to his word this time.”
Pastors pointed to Elvira Arellano’s seemingly miraculous return as cause for new hope in the movement in Chicago. Yet even as the Chicago leaders celebrated their unity and determination, the Pope met with President Obama, led by the call of a young girl seeking to free her father from deportation. With the Pope’s intervention, her father was returned to his family.
“This day marks a real turning point in our struggle,” said one march participant. “Our faith leaders are walking with us now.”
After the rally in Federal Plaza, the pastors led the march to ICE headquarters where over fifty religious leaders and elected officials planted themselves in front of the doors, shutting down the offices until they were arrested. United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck, among those arrested, called on all people of faith to stand with the immigrants in this life and death fight for justice and for human dignity.
“We are united now in our demand on the President to use his executive authority – from the grassroots to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, from the storefront churches to the bishops,” said Lozano. We have 90 days to make our case with power and with the full participation of our community. It’s in our hands.”
See also: Sally Dyck, Methodist Bishop, Arrested At Chicago Immigration Reform Rally