Immigration advocates are trying to get the attention of lawmakers in Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill by planning rallies and demonstrations in cities across the country. Mi Familia Vota Arizona state director, Raquel Terán and Promise Arizona executive director, Petra Falcon talk about details of the march set to take place here in Phoenix.
José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. Immigration advocates vow to grab the attention of lawmakers in Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill by planning big rallies and demonstrations starting this weekend in cities across the country, followed by a march in Washington on October 8th. Here with me to talk about the marches planned in the Valley are Petra Falcon, Executive Director for Promise Arizona, an Raquel Terán, Arizona State Director for Mi Familia Vota. Thanks for joining us on Horizonte. Let's just recap what your organization is about, Petra.
Petra Falcon: Promise Arizona was born out of the fight against SB 1070 in April of 2010, and it grew out of the work of a lot of young people and immigrant families that decided SB 1070 was not going to close the doors to them to live a good quality of life, especially in Arizona. We focus on leadership development, on civic engagement, on making sure that their voices are heard. Promise Arizona also works to make sure that we no longer have bad bills like SB 1070, but at this moment it's about advancing comprehensive immigration reform. At the local level we work with a lot of organizations especially right now on this event for October 5th.
José Cárdenas: Raquel, your organization Mi Familia Vota, you have worked with them in different capacities for many years. What's their role in this activity?
Raquel Terán: Mi Familia Vota has been working more than ten years engaging Latinos in the decision making process, ensuring that our voices are heard at the polls. We're a national organization. We are in Arizona, Colorado, California, Nevada, Florida and Texas. Our mission has been to make sure that Latinos are heard. Just like Promise Arizona we are working really closely on ensuring that we pass an immigration reform bill with a pathway to citizenship. That was one of the main reasons why Mi Familia Vota was born because we knew there were bad pieces of legislation that were attacking our communities not only in Arizona but across the country.
José Cárdenas: Yours is a national organization. This event is being organized across the country by a national organization. Tell us about that and what's planned.
Raquel Terán: It's a partnership of many organizations. There's mobilizations planned in more than 40 states. We have 161 events that are happening. There's rallies, there's marches. There's vigils. The purpose of these events is to make sure that Congress hears our voice, that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Today Democrats introduced a piece of legislation very similar to what the Senate passed in July, and we're very hopeful that this starts a conversation. We know that there are more than 20 Republicans who are also supporting comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Actually there is 26 Republicans. So we have the votes to pass a bill. We have 218 votes. So right now our mobilizations are urging the Republican leadership to give us a vote so that we have our families come out of the shadows.
José Cárdenas: I want to talk about how likely that is to happen this year. Before we do that, Petra let's talk about the march. It's this Saturday. Give us the details.
Petra Falcon: The details is that this Saturday, October 5th, we're inviting the community to join us on a march for dignity and respect. It's a national day of action. We believe there will be two to three thousand people. They are to join us before 10:00. We want to start at 10:00 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary at 909 West Washington, it's 9th street and Washington. We're asking people to wear red. We want everybody to wear a red T-shirt with any design or logo, but just a red T-shirt to demonstrate unity across the state.
José Cárdenas: I understand there's going to be special things going along that will be happening alongside the marchers. Tells us about that.
Petra Falcon: We want to highlight the pillars of what we think is a good, comprehensive immigration reform bill. That's to protect workers, families, to reunite families, make sure our young people get into higher education, more importantly, that there is a pathway to citizenship so these stories what I'm calling them vignettes will be along the route all the way to the
Federal Courthouse at 4th Avenue and Washington.
José Cárdenas: If people want to get involved where can they get more information?
Petra Falcon: The number to call is 602-345-0166.
José Cárdenas: Raquel you were talking about people having conversations. There not talking about anything right now in Congress. They won't even talk about the budget shutdown, the crisis right there. What makes you think that this is going to have any impact whatsoever?
Raquel Terán: Well, the fact that we had an extraordinary summer. We have very sophisticated campaign where we're able to engage our members of Congress, where we are having one on ones, meeting with them. There's already 26 Republicans that during the summer came out in support of a pathway to citizenship.
José Cárdenas: You think there will be some action and that people will be able to even though they can't talk about the budget and the deficit they'll be able to talk about immigration reform?
Raquel Terán: We knew immigration reform was going to be a priority issue. We knew that October would be a month where we're still hopeful for our families, our communities that October and November are key months where they take up this legislation. Honestly what we had today with the Democrats introducing this bill is the vehicle that we needed. That's why these mobilizations, these rallies, these events that are happening across the country are so important. So that Republican leadership hears that we need that vote. The votes are there.
José Cárdenas: Petra, any concern about backlash? The articles about the march that's coming up you have people like Rusty Childers saying, great, you're just going to make people opposed to immigration reform angry and it's going to help his cause.
Petra Falcon: We heard that at the beginning of the summer that there would be backlash in the streets, a lot of counter protests. We have not seen anything this summer. In fact it's been very, very quiet on the right. The second thing is the majority of Americans, the majority of Arizonans support comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Americans are already are saying let's have a solution. The vehicle introduced today in the house by house Democrats is an opportunity to move forward. We already know this bill represents a lot of what the Senators already passed. That was a bipartisan bill.
José Cárdenas: So you're hopeful.
Petra Falcon: Very hopeful.
José Cárdenas: thank you both for joining us on Horizonte to talk about this very important subject.
Raquel Terán: Thank you.
José Cárdenas: Thank you.
Raquel Terán:Director, Mi Familia Vota Arizona;Petra Falcon:Executive Director, Promise Arizona