Immigration Reform

Immigration Reform Overview

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We believe in comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. Our vision of reform includes immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens working shoulder to shoulder to achieve better wages, working conditions and labor protections. We want to ensure that everyone is playing by the same set of rules and make it harder for unscrupulous employers to cheat any worker, including immigrants. Virginia Organizing is proud to be the state coordinator for Alliance for Citizenship (A4C), a national campaign to win citizenship for 11 million Americans-in-waiting who are living in the United States today.  Virginia Organizing is working with dozens of groups across the Commonwealth to get our Members of Congress to support immigration reform.  To be part of this campaign, contact Joe Szakos at szakos@virginia-organizing.org. As a part of this national effort, Virginia Organizing has adopted the A4C core principles for reform: ·      Secure the broadest possible legalization with a path to citizenship ·      Preserve and work to advance family reunification ·      Protect rights and working conditions for all workers ·      Block enforcement measures that violate due process ·      Accord the responsibilities and rights required for full integration into American society In addition, we have a statewide Immigration Strategy Committee for grassroots people to be involved in the policy change process. 

Virginia Organizing Responds to Rep. Goodlatte's Committee Hearing

Icon June 26, 2014 - 02:31 Roanoke, Va.—On behalf of Virginia Organizing, Janice “Jay” Johnson responded to U.S. Representative and House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte’s committee hearing that called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to account for the surge of young people crossing the border:   “We all know that our immigration system is broken—Representative Goodlatte even says so at every public meeting he holds. Perhaps Representative Goodlatte should be focused on solving real problems instead of trying to find other people to blame. If Representative Goodlatte is looking for someone to blame, he should look in the mirror since his committee, along with House leadership, is responsible for the lack of meaningful immigration reform in Congress.   “The people of the 6th Congressional District elected Representative Goodlatte to solve problems, not give platitudes to those people who are directly affected by the policies he admits are flawed, but refuses to fix.   “Virginia Organizing has been working to address this issue for years and Representative Goodlatte just does not seem to get the message. We do not want more hearings and meaningless words, we want action — and we want it now!”

Virginia Organizing leaders arrested at Boehner’s office

Icon June 12, 2014 - 21:47 Published by the Augusta Free Press on June 11, 2014. Five Virginia Organizing leaders, including two State Governing Board members, were arrested at Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner’s office today while taking a stand in support of immigration reform. Kate Rosenfield of Charlottesville was among those arrested. “There are so many immigrant families living and working in the United States and supporting this nation doing jobs no one else will do,” said Rosenfield. “I was arrested today taking a stand for families being torn apart because Speaker Boehner refuses to even allow a vote on immigration reform bills that are ready for the House floor and would keep families together.” Community leaders from Virginia Organizing chose to visit Speaker Boehner’s office because of his failure to act on immigration reform. Virginia Organizing joined young people from Michigan, Alabama, Oregon, and California to stand in solidarity and risk arrest in support of comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. “For nearly two years, House leadership has ignored letters, phone calls, emails, and other communications,” said VirginiaOrganizing Vice-Chairperson Ladelle McWhorter. “Today, we are here to show Speaker Boehner, House leadership and the rest of Congress that we are not backing down from immigration reform. In keeping with the history of civil disobedience in the fight for civil rights, Virginians are willing to be arrested to stand for justice for all people.” Most recently, under Speaker Boehner’s leadership, the House of Representatives blocked a bill from being voted on that would have allowed undocumented young people serving in the military a path to earn their citizenship. “In the shifting political landscape, it is more important than ever before that Speaker Boehner lead the House of Representatives on this important public policy,” said McWhorter. “Virginia Organizing will not rest until comprehensiveimmigration reform with a path to citizenship is achieved. We cannot leave millions of people who are already living and working in the U.S. out in the cold while playing politics with their lives.”

Virginia Organizing Civil Disobedience Action in Washington, D.C. (Video)

Icon June 12, 2014 - 21:26 We've uploaded some exciting video of the immigration reform civil disobedience action that resulted in the arrests of five Virginia Organizing leaders, including two State Governing Board members. Watch the video below and be sure to call Speaker Boehner at 888-845-2087 to tell him we need a vote on comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship!  Click here to read more on our blog.  Click here to see photos of the action. 
See video

BREAKING NEWS: Virginia Organizing Leaders Arrested at Speaker Boehner's Office

Icon June 11, 2014 - 19:25   Moments ago, five Virginia Organizing leaders, including two State Governing Board members, were arrested at Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner’s Washington, D.C. office while taking a stand in support of immigration reform.   Speaker Boehner would rather have people arrested than meet with us on immigration reform. Will you call him at 888-845-2087 to tell him we need a vote on immigration reform?   Community leaders from Virginia Organizing chose to visit Speaker Boehner’s office because of his failure to act on immigration reform. Virginia Organizing joined young people from Michigan, Alabama, Oregon, and California to stand in solidarity and risk arrest in support of comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.    For nearly two years, House leadership has ignored letters, phone calls, emails, and other communications. Today, Virginia Organizing showed Speaker Boehner, House leadership, and the rest of Congress that we are not backing down from immigration reform. In keeping with the history of civil disobedience in the fight for civil rights, Virginians are willing to be arrested to stand for justice for all people. Most recently, under Speaker Boehner’s leadership, the House leaders blocked a bill from being voted on that would have allowed undocumented young people serving in the military a path to earn their citizenship.   In the changing political landscape, it is more important than ever before for Speaker Boehner to be a leader and allow immigration reform to come to the House floor for a vote.   Virginia Organizing will not rest until comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship is achieved. We need real reforms to fix our failing immigration system—reforms that will provide a path to earned citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, a more streamlined process for future immigration to encourage lawful immigration, and greater security for our nation. We cannot leave millions of people who are already living and working in the U.S. out in the cold.   Please call Speaker Boehner at 888-845-2087 to tell him we deserve a vote on immigration reform with a path to citizenship!   Click here for some more photos from the action today!   Thank you for all your work and for standing in solidarity with those who have been arrested. We will keep you posted as the story develops.   Sincerely,   Ladelle McWhorter Virginia Organizing Vice-Chairperson   P.S. If you would like to make a donation to support our ongoing organizing work, please click here to be taken to our secure donation page. 
Photo Credit: Allison Brophy Champion

The Weight of History

Icon June 4, 2014 - 16:37 Published by the Culpeper Star Exponent on June 4, 2014 By Allison Brophy Champion A grassroots group of local citizens gathered in the basement of a Latin American tienda Monday night in Culpeper in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Charlottesville-based Virginia Organizing coordinated the event during which the short documentary, "The Dream is Now," was shown, advocating for a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented youth brought to the U.S. by their parents.   "For me, it's the civil rights issue of our time," said Virginia Organizing volunteer Pat Smith, a retired teacher and artist from Locust Grove.  "I grew up in the '60s when I was involved in that civil rights movement, too and when I was a child in the '50s I worked through my church with migrant workers so it's been a life-long thing for me."   Five years ago, she lived in Prince William County during a time when that locality had implemented local enforcement of federal immigration measures.   "I had to carry around my own passport because the police would stop anybody whenever they wanted, you had to show documentation," Smith said. "That was terrifying."   She supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers who are not criminals.   Jay-Bo Carpenter, of Orange County, attended Monday's event at El Rincon Hispano on East Street with about 20 other people because he wants to get the attention of his congressman, and help affect some kind of change.   "I've already been writing (Rep.) Eric Cantor (R-Richmond) trying to push for him to put this up for a vote," said 34-year-old Carpenter, who works with the family business at Baker's Store in Culpeper.   A pathway to citizenship wherein applicants would have to wait a decade to earn it, learn English and pay back taxes is what he said he would support. Carpenter said he knows immigrant families living in the U.S. for more than 20 years without the proper documentation.   "It's a human rights issue," he said. "I just feel we should all live and work here together instead of against each other."   Carmelita Carter, 30, of Orange County spoke in favor of citizenship for immigrant youth illegally brought to the U.S. by their parents.   "We certainly don't want to send back the children who have been here since they were 1-year-old or separate them from their parents or grandparents," said Carter, a student. "It's inappropriate. We all belong here. Years ago, people didn't want people who looked like me to be here," said the woman of color. "I t just doesn't make any sense that we are treating other people as though they are not as good as us because they look or speak a different way."   Culpeper resident Beth Boyd, a former English as a Second Language teacher for Culpeper County Public Schools, said it was a privilege for her to teach many of the young immigrant students who came through the program she started back in 1991.   "I'm just really concerned about the way Culpeper has treated its immigrant population and really want to do what I can to help change things," she said.   A Virginia Organizing leader who asked that her name not be printed in the newspaper said that one of the purposes of Monday night's gathering in Culpeper was to get Cantor to agree to a meeting about immigration reform.   Culpeper's congressman has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks about the hot-button topic with one side criticizing him for not bringing reform measures up for a vote on the house floor and the other side criticizing him for his continued reported support of policies that would grant legal status to undocumented immigrants serving in the military and proposed measures allowing citizenship for children brought into the country illegally.   Carter, the student, declined when asked if she any message for Cantor, her congressman, on the issue.   "I don't even know what you could tell Eric Cantor. I don't really think he cares," she said. "I think all that matters to him is he gets reelected and he doesn't have to do much in this area to get reelected. No one puts any pressure on him."   Smith, the Virginia Organizing volunteer, said it's depressing that Cantor won't push for action in terms of citizenship for so-called Dreamers, undocumented young people living in America.   "Inevitably, something will be done, but people will claw tooth and nail to keep the status quo as long as they can," she said. "The cruelty is so horrendous that as people become aware of the real stories of what is happening to hardworking neighbors, more and more the weight of history is going to come down in favor of a pathway to citizenship."

Virginia Organizing's Fredericksburg Chapter Canvasses for Immigration Reform

Icon May 30, 2014 - 14:58 Virginia Organizing leaders in Fredericksburg canvassed the area for supporters of immigration reform over the Memorial Day weekend. As a result, 26 community members voiced their concerns about the lack of congressional action on immigration reform. Virginia Organizing is working around the state to mobilize Virginians to speak up for immigration reform. Immigration reform affects all Americans and there is national support for change that the U.S. House of Representatives has ignored since 2012.

Take Action on Immigration Reform

Icon May 28, 2014 - 16:37 By Dulce Elias, Harrisonburg Chapter Leader   U.S. Representative and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has done it again! He’s putting politics over the needs of Virginians by blocking a vote on immigration reform.   Congressmen like Bob Goodlatte and Eric Cantor have the power to make immigration reform a reality, but have continuously held up comprehensive reform claiming that a piece-by-piece approach to immigration reform is necessary. Recently, Representative Cantor was given an opportunity to put his words into action on the ENLIST Act, a small piece of immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for certain young people who serve in the military, but he chose not to allow a vote on this important legislation.   We want Representative Cantor to stop blocking any attempts at immigration reform and allow comprehensive reform to be voted on. We want an opportunity to be heard. We want democracy, not political games that only benefit Representative Cantor.   Will you take a moment to call Representative Cantor at 888-778-6856 and tell him you want a vote on immigration reform?   Thank you for your commitment to immigration reform and a more just Virginia for all people!