Now’s the Time to be Vigilant and Engaged on Immigration Issues

ImmigrantsMany of you have already seen the Episcopal Public Policy Network article, EPPN: The Immigration Debate Begins – Add Your Voice Now!, on ENS about the immigration debate beginning in the US Senate.

Since this has been an issue I’ve covered on EpiscoYouth – and because the General Convention Official Youth Presence was extremely active on immigration issues – I want to continue to highlight the issue, including the following action items from the article:

Over the next 2 weeks, we must remain vigilant and engaged to defend positive pieces of the bill from negative amendments, and to seek improvements in the pieces of the bill with which we disagree. Your voice will be vital in swaying your decision makers, which is why our call to action today is to ensure you are linked to 3 key advocacy and information sharing tools:

IIC call-in line – Each morning of mark-up, please call 1-866-940-2439. You will be greeted by a recording that outlines the relevant amendments of the day, and our position on these amendments. Calling each day, as early as possible, will allow Senators to have their tally of “pros” versus “cons” before they vote! Make sure they have your vote in hand!

Facebook and Twitter – We will also be following the mark-ups live and reporting out the votes as well as last minute changes that will be moving too quickly for email. The BEST way to keep up to date is to follow us on both Twitter and Facebook- we will be sharing advocacy messaging, posts, or tweets that you can share with your networks and updates.

I will continue to post updates on this issue.

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The DREAM is Now

the DREAM is nowToday, my guest blogger is Katie Conway, Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst for the Office of Government Relations of the Episcopal Church. In this piece, Katie presents an overview of a recent documentary on the DREAM Act and provides links to supporting resources that you might find useful for organizing a youth or intergenerational group discussion night. As you might remember, the General Convention Official Youth Presence (GCOYP) was active in encouraging the General Convention to pass a resolution encouraging Congress to pass the DREAM Act.

New Documentary Focuses on DREAM Act

The Dream is Now campaign is a collaboration between the Emerson Collective, led by Laurene Powell Jobs, and acclaimed filmmaker Davis Guggenheim.  The goal of the campaign is to pass humane immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for DREAMers and their families.  The campaign is working on a number of fronts with the goal of attracting a broad audience: using the power of story through video, activating social and traditional media, and conducting grassroots organizing on college campuses.

One of the key tools we are using is the recently released documentary, also entitled The Dream Is Now, which chronicles the real life stories of students who are trying to access higher education or military service but are unable to because of their immigration status.  We have made this movie available via our website, YouTube, and soon it will be available on Netflix.  Additionally, we will screen the film in communities and on college campuses across the country.

Recently, we released additional tools on our website including a “Write your Elected Official” template and a “Tweet your Senator or Representative” feature.

This is a historic moment, with Democrats and Republicans coming together to fix what’s broken. A bipartisan group of eight Senators has already introduced a compromise proposal, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744).

We are making progress, but there is a long way to go.

We need your help. Please consider joining us on the journey and sharing this film with your friends and neighbors. Please visit our website at www.thedreamisnow.org to learn more. If you’re interested in screening the film in your community or have any questions, please contact us at film@thedreamisnow.org.

Call Your Senators Today in Support of Immigration Reform

(This is a guest blog post by Wendy Johnson. Over the course of her career, Wendy has been involved in politics at all levels and worked in both Youth Ministry and Communications for local congregations and the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. She is now consulting with my office on social media and communications.)

Today is National Faith Call-In Day. Immigration Reform has been at the top of our national agenda for years now and it is time Congress take action.

call in day

How do we spur them into doing something?

Each of us must call BOTH of our Senators and tell them that as a person of faith you want them to support a pathway to FULL CITIZENSHIP that prioritizes FAMILY UNITY.

You can read a full, sample script on the Interfaith Immigration website. To be connected to your Senators, there’s one number to call: 1-866-940-2439.

I’m not just talking to the adults here. I’m talking to young people.

Do teenagers have a voice?

Let me tell you as a former Congressional staffer who has served at all levels of government that YES, ABSOLUTELY! teenagers have a very valuable and important voice.

Think about it at a very base, political level – teenagers are future voters. In most cases, their vote will impact the next election cycle and any member of Congress who can generate a favorable vote in a young person will probably have a supporter for life.

Additionally, every member of Congress knows that teenagers likely have influence over current voters who happen to be their parents, family, friends, and teachers. Members of Congress are strategic and savvy teenagers can use that to gain attention from their Senators and Representatives.

If you are a young person who cares about this issue, you need to make your position known.

You come from a long history of activists who have changed the face of this country. Afterall, it was teenagers and young adults who protested for civil rights in the 1960s and peacefully marched on Selma, Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King. In 1964 it was teenagers and young adults who protested for equal voting rights, and once again changed the law. In 1965 it was teenagers and young adults who protested for health care and changed the existing law. It was teenagers and young adults who marched on Washington to protest the Vietnam War. And it was new voters – young adults – who tipped the scales in our last two elections.

Now is not the time to abdicate power, allowing this issue to be decided without your input.

Stand up for what you believe in by calling your Senator today. It’s 5 minutes that could impact thousands and change the course of US history.

January 22 is National Faith Call-In Day

call in dayWe’ve been praying and working for immigration reform, and now is our chance to make it a reality.

On Tuesday, January 22nd, welcome the new Congress by making sure they know that people of faith demand humane immigration reform in 2013.

Call 1-866-940-2439 to be connected with BOTH of your Senators.

Tell them that as their constituent and as a person of faith, you want immigration reform that provides a pathway to FULL CITIZENSHIP and prioritizes FAMILY UNITY.

Here’s a sample script you can use to tailor your personal message:

Hi, my name is (NAME/TTTLE), from (CITY, CONGREGATION).  

May I please speak with the staff person who handles immigration issues?

I urge the Senator to support a common sense, humane immigration reform bill that prioritizes family unity and creates a pathway to citizenship for aspiring Americans who are currently undocumented. What is the Senator doing to help enact immigration reform this year?

Make sure to call twice to reach both of your Senators, and please spread the word! Ask your friends, family members, neighbors, congregations, and communities to call their Senators.

For information on how to get more involved in the push for immigration reform, as well as talking points and the IIC’s recommendations to Congress, go to www.interfaithimmigration.org.