Stroke of a Pen immigration campaign heats up

The New York Immigration Coalition joined Congress Members Yvette Clarke and Luis Gutierrez at a public forum in Brooklyn Saturday, June 18, 2011 to highlight the urgent need to reform our immigration system and put an end to the senseless deportations and suffering of families.

Anti-immigrant forces have repeatedly blocked any legislative efforts to fix our broken immigration system. Given the bleak legislative outlook, groups are looking to the president to take actions that don’t depend on Congress. But the Obama Administration has, in fact, deported a record number of immigrants, some 780,000 over the past two years, most of whom are the very people the president has said should be allowed to legalize their status.

We salute Congress Members Clarke and Gutierrez for their sustained commitment to achieving common-sense fixes to our immigration system. They stand in contrast to too many of those in Washington who refuse to move us forward. And we look to President Obama to match his words of support for a better immigration system with concrete steps that are within his power to take and that do not require Congressional action.”

As part of our: “With the Stroke of a Pen Campaign,” the New York Immigration Coalition is calling on the president to take executive action —with the stroke of a pen— to undo some of the damage caused by harsh enforcement policies, including:

~halting the deportation of students who would be eligible for the DREAM Act;

~ending Secure Communities and similar programs that erode community policing by co-opting local law enforcement officers as immigration agents;

~directing the Department of Homeland Security to use prosecutorial discretion at every step of the deportation process;

~detaining immigrants only as a last resort and expanding alternatives to detention; and

~focusing workplace immigration enforcement on exploitive employers who flout our labor laws and profit from our broken immigration system.

There is so much talent and energy being wasted because of the federal government’s failure to fix our immigration system,” said Betsy Palmieri, executive director of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition. “America is better than this. Enforcement without reform is the path to destruction of our nation. President Obama, you can start us on the path to change with the stroke of a pen.”

Politicians across the country have ridden an anti-immigrant wave that plays on our fears and divides us,” said SJ Jung, president of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. The MinKwon Center and the communities we represent believe that our elected officials should instead lead the way towards a stronger, more inclusive future. We’ve collected over 1,000 signatures for the Stroke of a Pen Campaign, and we renew our call on President Obama to take executive action to stop unjust deportations.

Despite overwhelming support from the public – approximately three out of four Americans believe in a path toward citizenship – divisive tactics in Washington have prevailed. At the forum, speakers highlighted the urgent need for the President to take action to provide relief to suffering families and move the nation toward a fairer and smarter immigration system.

People understand the need for fair immigration policies and for humane and just treatment of our neighbors, co-workers, friends and relatives, who struggle as a result of the divisive rhetoric and punitive measures that arise from a dysfunctional immigration system,” said Leticia Alanis, director of La Union. “La Union is proud to sponsor the Pen Campaign and invite others to join this effort to build a better America.”

For more information about the New York Immigration Coalition’s “With the Stroke of a Pen” campaign, please go to or call (212) 627-2227.

The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.

The Pen Campaign is supported by a robust and diverse set of sponsors which include elected officials, unions and non-profit organizations:

Breakthrough: Bring Human Rights Home

City Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Julissa Ferreras, Jumaane Williams, and Gale Brewer

Cabrini Immigrant Services New York, NY

Churches United to Save and Heal, Brooklyn, NY

Centro Independiente de Trabajadores Agricolas (CITA), Albion, NY

El Centro del Inmigrante, Staten Island, NY

Hudson Valley Community Coalition, Hudson Valley, N.Y.

La Union de la Comunidad Latina Brooklyn, N.Y.

Migrant Support Services, Sodus, N.Y.

MinKwon Center for Community Action, Flushing, N.Y.

Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart (The Cabrini Sisters) Worldwide Organization.

New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) Jackson Heights, N.Y.

New Sanctuary Movement New York, N.Y.

St. Mary’s Church of the Lower East Side, New York, N.Y.

New York Immigration Coalition.

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