This post comes from Hyacinth Alvaran, Diversity Program Manager for the Human Rights Campaign:
Yesterday, tens of thousands of immigrant rights supporters and advocates held a massive “A10 Rally for Citizenship” in front of the Capitol as they demanded urgent and much-needed immigration reform. The Human Rights Campaign joined this rally at the heels of announcing its full-fledged backing of comprehensive & inclusive reform that keeps LGBT families together, creates a pathway to citizenship for undocumented adults and youth, protects the health and safety of LGBT immigrants, and improves the U.S. asylum system for LGBT applicants. Representatives from diverse LGBT rights and ally organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, the Task Force, the Latino GLBT History Project, GetEqual, Family Equality Council, and New Organizing Institute formed a 50-strong contingent that marched from the Mall to the Capitol, and combined their voices with those of our immigrant members, supporters, and allies. For me personally, it was moving to see and feel our communities come together in support of this critical issue because, no matter what our communities are or where we come from, we are all asking for the same thing when it comes to immigration reform: a fair shot. Whether we’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender; whether we’re an immigrant or have friends and families who are immigrants; or whether we’re documented or undocumented, we’re all just asking for a fair shot to be with our families and loved ones, to have a good job and make a living, and to contribute to this country: the country of promises, hope, and opportunity, and the country where many of us and our families have set roots and grown up.
Cuc Vu, Chief Diversity Officer of the Human Rights Campaign – herself a proud immigrant, lesbian, and a long-time advocate for immigrant rights since her years as a labor organizer for SEIU – stood proudly on stage alongside other progressive leaders who drove home the point that, as speaker Rea Carey of the Task Force pronounced, “LGBT people are immigrants, and immigration is an LGBT issue.”
In addition to participating in this rally on the national level, HRC also supported and promoted local “Echo Events” that echoed the call for immigration reform across the country. HRC social media and steering committees promoted and supported the Echo Events in Boston, MA; Orlando, FL; Aurora, CO; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; and Norristown, PA, many of which took the form of rallies and marches.
HRC has a long history of standing side-by-side with our immigrant allies. We marched in the immigrant mobilizations of 2007 and 2011, and have been a national partner in the ya es hora citizenship workshops since 2009, where we have partnered with over 60 immigrant and Latino organizations and leaders in 20 communities including Casa de Maryland, one of the main organizers of yesterday's rally, to recruit over 2,500 volunteers in 60 workshops that assisted immigrants in their applications for citizenship. In addition, HRC has played a lead role in organizing citizenship workshops in Las Vegas, the Twin Cities, San Diego, and Portland, OR. Furthermore, in New York, Boston, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, HRC recruited much-needed volunteers for workshops that assisted undocumented youth in their application for work eligibility and respite from deportation under President Obama’s executive order in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Finally, HRC is proud to be one of the three dozen LGBT organizations who support the “LGBT Dreamers Fund” at the Liberty Hill Foundation, launched by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, and the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund to help LGBT youth receive assistance in paying for the $465 fee to apply for the DACA program. As of February 2013, the LGBT Dreamers Fund has raised over $100,000 to help 200 young people apply for DACA relief.
HRC has a long tradition of standing side-by-side with our immigrant members, supporters, and allies. We are proud to continue that tradition at yesterday’s rally, and will continue to be a part of it as we call on Congress to pass comprehensive & inclusive immigration reform at this critical time.