Immigrant Rights Organizations Unite on Capitol Hill to Advocate for Communities of Color, Common Goals & Legislative Priorities

Luncheon attended by over 300 advocates representing over 50 organizations; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer; Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Congresswoman Judy Chu and others  

September 28, 2017 (Washington, DC) – Hispanic Federation, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition today hosted a policy luncheon bringing together over 300 advocates representing over 50 advocacy organizations. The organizations which included Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Immigration Equality, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Service (ACCESS), Fanm Ayisyen Nam Miyami, Inc., Connecticut Students for a Dream, La Casa de Don Pedro, and the Puerto Rican Action Initiative among others also participated in advocacy meetings on Capitol Hill. The day of action was called “One Voice: Unity on Capitol Hill.”

The policy luncheon featured Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Judy Chu, and other Members of Congress. The elected leaders joined advocates and Dreamers who were in attendance to speak about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, health care, Puerto Rico, and Mexico relief efforts and the environment. They also discussed legislative strategies to fight against increasing attacks on communities of color across the nation.

“Since President Donald Trump took office, he has issued executive orders and supported legislation that will undo decades of progress on matters of equality and justice,” said José Calderón, President of Hispanic Federation. “Despite the uncertainty and fear this political climate creates, we are coming together to send a clear message to President Trump and every elected official on Capitol Hill: we are not afraid, we are united, and together we will advance policies that uplift communities of color across our nation.”

As part of the day of action, advocates are fanning out across the hill to meet with more than 100 congressional offices on issues of critical importance to communities of color. Agenda topics included the passage of the DREAM Act, protection of the Affordable Care Act, criminal justice reform, civil rights, environmental justice, and the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. In addition, advocates called for federal assistance to assist the people of Mexico.

“Our LULAC members gathered on Capitol Hill today to bring critical awareness to issues that pose a serious threat to undocumented and underserved communities across the nation,” said Brent Wilkes, LULAC National CEO. “The passage of the Dream Act, support for the ACA and the immediate funding of federal assistance to Puerto Rico were part of the topics discussed at today’s meetings. It is clear that this administration will continue to alienate communities of color by cutting important programs fundamental to our progress as a people in this country. We cannot allow our community to be victimized in this manner. Today’s efforts are important because they provide relevant background so that members can make informed decisions on these matters. Ultimately, it is up to our community to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions moving forward.”   

"What do we do today, when one’s mere existence as an immigrant is increasingly criminalized? We come together, immigrants and allies, and stand on the shoulders of the abolitionists, the suffragettes, and the civil rights leaders of our country, and demand changes in our laws that reflect our values as compassionate and inclusive Americans," said Angela Fernandez, Esq., Executive Director and Supervising Attorney of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

“Alianza Americas is delighted to join the rest of our colleagues in this day of action,” said Oscar A. Chacón, Executive Director of Alianza Americas. “Latino communities, including immigrants, are under attack. It is imperative for Latino community leaders and our allies to come together, and work together toward the common purpose of making our government and public policy truly work for the benefit of all people, including Latino communities.”

“Asian Americans will not remain silent while our country backslides into white nationalism and nativism,” said Aarti Kohli, Executive Director of Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus. “Historically, our community suffered under the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Japanese Internment and we refuse to go back. As an organization that works every day on deportation defense, DACA protection, and fighting the Muslim travel bans, we see the harmful impacts of the Trump Administration’s policies on our pan-Asian communities. Only by working together can we achieve justice and the Asian American community stands ready to do that.”

“Now more than ever, Latinos throughout the US are speaking with one voice, alerting Congress that they need to act and be responsive to the needs of our growing population. Significant immigration reform, including those protected by DACA, protecting our existing Health Care System, and providing urgent funds for disaster relief for Puerto Rico are priorities that need immediate action now. We cannot wait any longer.” said Fernando Betancourt, Executive Director of the San Juan Center, a non-profit social service organization based in Hartford, Connecticut, and a member of the Hispanic Federation.

"Adhikaar is joining Hispanic Federation and other partners because we believe it is critical to work in a coalition with diverse communities to fight for justice, fairness, equity, and dignity. We are on the Hill because we believe that health care, immigrant rights, and civil rights are human rights that cannot be traded or bought. We are here for the Nepali-speaking community to ensure TPS is renewed for Nepal, that we continue to have ACA for our community members and immigrant rights to protect us all." said Pabitra Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar.

“It is critical that we as Latinos and Latinas make our voices heard by our elected officials on Capitol Hill on the issues that most concern us regarding health, education, immigration, and economic empowerment. As a community, we make great contributions to this country and must protect our hard earned rights and benefits during these difficult political times.” Said Rosita Romero, Executive Director of the Dominican Women’s Development Center.

The luncheon took place in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building.