20 Most Powerful Moments of This Year’s Immigration Reform Fight

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In 2013, activists in the immigration reform movement have been hard at work. Hardly a day has passed that a Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) group has not held an action, visited members of Congress, sent letters, protested and prayed to bring attention to the dire need to pass immigration reform.

Here is a recap of some of the most powerful moments from this past year.

 

1.) February 25th- When thousands of people from across the country joined our massive national bus tour that went through 20 states and 90 cities to spread the stories of families separated by our broken immigration system far and wide.

Activists in New York prepare to join the bus tour.

Activists in New York prepare to join the bus tour.

2.) March 13th- That time we shut down the Republican National Committee (RNC).

110 people, representing the 1,100 people deported each day, occupied the RNC to tell their stories.

110 people, representing the 1,100 people deported each day, occupied the RNC to tell their stories of family separation.

3.) April 10th- 100,000 activists from across the country showed up on the National Mall to demand comprehensive immigration reform.  CASA in Action, SEIU, civil rights organizations and many others helped make that day possible.

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4.) May 1st- Tens of thousands of people came out for events in more than 100 cities with the common goal of supporting comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together.

FIRM member group the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); Los Angeles, CA

FIRM member group the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); Los Angeles, CA.

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FIRM member group the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC); New York, NY.

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FIRM member group Voces de la Frontera; Milwaukee, MN.

5.) May 16th- Protesters ambushed the Heritage Foundation, delivering more than 5,000 petitions calling for Heritage President Jim DeMint’s resignation for publishing a baseless and racist report that argued Latinos have lower IQ levels than “native whites.”

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Protesters deliver a giant pink slip to Heritage President Jim DeMint.

6.) May 21st- Seven DREAMers affiliated with FIRM groups chilled out with President Obama and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office.

7 members from FIRM—affiliated with CHIRLA, Massachusettes Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), NYIC and Florida Immigrant Coalition *(FLIC)—met with the President and Vice President in the Oval Office.

Seven members from FIRM—affiliated with CHIRLA, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), NYIC and Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC)—told their stories of family separation.

7.) June 27th- Activists maintained a constant presence in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings as members of Congress debated the Senate’s version of the immigration reform bill until the bill was passed on June 27th, 2013. CASA in Action played a significant role in this event.

Immigrant rights activists pray during the hearing

Immigrant rights activists pray during the hearing.

8.) July 10th- That time we held a funeral for the GOP.

People held signs saying "G.O.P. R.I.P.?", suggesting that if they fail to act on immigration reform, Latino voting power will make their party obsolete.

People held signs saying “G.O.P. R.I.P.?”, suggesting that if Republicans fail to act on immigration reform, Latino voting power will make their party obsolete.

9.) August 1st- 45 of our movement’s biggest leaders, including Campaign for Community Change Executive Director Deepak Bhargava, were arrested for blocking traffic on Capitol Hill to emphasize the urgency of passing comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

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Executive Director of the Campaign for Community Change Deepak Bhargava is taken away in handcuffs.

Executive Director of the Campaign for Community Change Deepak Bhargava is taken away in handcuffs.

10.) August 1st- And then later that afternoon, when over 100 advocates descended on congressional offices to visit their representatives. Additional arrests were made in front of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s office when a group of activists sat down, blocking the hallway, and refused to move.

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11.) August 14th- The largest car and bus caravan in California state history, originating from nearly 50 cities, headed to Bakersfield, California to tell GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy that his constituents have waited long enough for reform.

After landing in Bakersfield, activists march toward McCarthy's office.

After landing in Bakersfield, activists march toward McCarthy’s office.

12.) September 12th- 104 women sat down in a busy intersection in front of the U.S. Capitol and refused to move until Capitol Police took them away in handcuffs.

Women engaged in this act of civil disobedience to underscore the disproportionate impact our broken immigration system has on women and children.

Women engaged in this act of civil disobedience to underscore the disproportionate impact our broken immigration system has on women and children.

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13.) October 5th- FIRM and its partners held 177 events in 40 states and 150 cities for the National Day of Dignity and Respect.

FIRM member group Michigan United; Kalamazoo, MI.

FIRM member group Michigan United; Kalamazoo, MI.

FIRM member group NYIC; Brooklyn, NY.

FIRM member group NYIC; Brooklyn, NY.

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FIRM member group CHIRLA; Hollywood, CA.

14.) October 8th- Eight democratic members of Congress were arrested alongside more than 200 immigrant rights leaders to demand action on immigration reform in one of the biggest acts of arrestable civil disobedience in the history of the nation’s capital.

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15.) November 6th- 13 women occupied GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy’s district office for more than ten hours to demand a meeting with the congressman. A little past 11 pm, Kevin McCarthy, his wife and a small entourage of police officers and staffers walked in the door and agreed to sit down to talk with the women about immigration reform.

CHIRLA members, including Executive Director Angelica Salas, talk with Rep. McCarthy.

CHIRLA members, including Executive Director Angelica Salas, talk with Rep. McCarthy.

16.) November 13th- That time two young girls stood up to the most powerful Republican in the United States. Click here to watch the full interaction.

Carmen Lima, 13, and Jenni Martinez, 16, tell Speaker Boehner why immigration reform is an urgent issue for their families.

Carmen Lima, 13, and Jenni Martinez, 16, tell Speaker Boehner why immigration reform is an urgent issue for their families.

17.) November 14th- Leaders from the 1963 Children’s Crusade for Civil Rights in Birmingham, Alabama joined kids fighting for immigration reform and marched together arm-in-arm for immigration reform, which they referred to as the “Civil Rights issue of this generation.”

An original photo from the 1963 Children's Crusade above a photo from the 2013 Youth in Action march for immigration reform. Image via Reform Immigration for America.

An original photo from the 1963 Children’s Crusade above a photo from the 2013 Youth in Action march for immigration reform. Image via Reform Immigration for America.

18.) November 14th- And later that day, when young activists marched right up to Speaker Boehner’s office to deliver their messages.

One young girl holds a handmade card upside-down that reads. "Dear Speaker B."

Outside the Speaker’s office, one young girl holds a handmade card upside-down that reads. “Dear Speaker B.”

19.) December 12th- We held vigil in over 175 congressional offices simultaneously– the organizing of which was led by CASA in Action.

Activists prayed, chanted and sang for up to an hour, or until they were kicked out by Capitol Police.

Activists prayed, chanted and sang for up to an hour, or until they were kicked out by Capitol Police.

20.) December 12th- When a large group of activists in a tent on the National Mall, and thousands more across the country, joined Fast for Families, eating nothing and drinking only water to emphasize the extreme urgency of passing immigration reform for American families. On December 12th, activists broke their fast in a ceremony on the National Mall.

CCC employee Rudy Lopez leads the procession of supporters to the Fast for Families tent for the event. After fasting for 22 days, Rudy did not have the strength to walk and had to pushed in a wheelchair.

Senior Organizer for FIRM Rudy Lopez, center, led the procession of supporters to the Fast for Families tent for the event. After fasting for 22 days, Rudy did not have the strength to walk and had to be pushed in a wheelchair.

Fasters take their first bite of bread after many weeks of fasting.

Fasters take their first bite of bread after weeks of fasting.

Though the intransigence of Republican leadership got in the way of a victory this year for our families, 2013 has still been an incredible year for our movement.

In the words of FIRM’s Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice Kica Matos, “We will continue to do this work in 2014, every single day. We remain ever focused on our goal, and we are undeterred by the obstacles thrown in our way in 2013. We have grown in numbers, our political strength is undeniable and our voices will not be silenced. We will see Congress on day one of their 2014 session.