Michigan United and Michigan Organizing Project Rally For Immigration Reform In Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo- Thursday, over 100 members of Michigan United held a symbolic rehearsal citizenship ceremony for “Future Citizens” of the steps of the County Courthouse highlighting the need to comprehensive immigration reform with an earned path to citizenship this year. The event comes at the beginning of the August congressional recess, which advocates are anticipating will be key to the immigration reform movement.

Participants came from towns across southwest Michigan, including Sturgis, Hartford, Fennville, Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo.  City Commissioner Don Cooney led the group in a symbolic rehearsal of the oath of citizenship, the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem.

“Our country’s founding principles-equality, opportunity, freedom, hard work- are what immigrants have come seeking for generations,” said State Representative Sean McCann. “Immigrant families are living by these values, seeking a better life. It is long past time for immigration reform. It’s time for Congress to get past partisan politics and do what makes sense”.

Immigrants like Itzel Gomes,  from Malawi, has been waiting for his visa approval for 15 years. Ivan Gomez, a small business owner, from Borneo has been in the United States for 13 years. Despite, working, paying taxes, following the law, owning businesses and pursuing higher education, there is no pathway to citizenship available to them.

DREAM ( Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) students, Victor Esparza and Itzel Gomez have been able to obtain college degrees and pursue jobs in their field of education, opening more opportunities than the traditional field work afford to them.

Demonstrators delivered approximately 600 signatures to Congressman Fred Upton’s Kalamazoo office to urge him to vote in favor of immigration reform.

The Senate passed an immigration bill in June that included a pathway to citizenship. The bill passed with an impressive 68-to-32 majority. The Republican-led Congress has left for August recess without resolving  the issue. Congress will be back in session, Sept. 9.

Participants plan to continue with additional actions throughout the August Recess.


Celebrate The Work Of Immigrants And Call For Immigration Reform In Bronson Park

Michigan United, immigrants and community supporters from various cities throughout SW Michigan will meet in Kalamazoo, MI for “Working Hand” National Day of Action Wednesday.

Kalamazoo is one on many cities around the country honoring the work of immigrants and bring more awareness to a much needed overall to immigration reform.


The rally is set for May 1, 2013 at Bronson Park 12pm-1PM







Immigration Rally Today At Hispanic American Council

The national tour for immigration reform makes a stop in Kalamazoo


Buses on the national “Family Unity” tour for immigration reform are making their way toward Washington D.C. to build pressure for reform, make stops in key congressional districts, and sharing of stories of a much needed overhaul for immigration reform. Today, they’ll stop right here in Kalamazoo!

The national”Family Unity” tour members will meet tonight along with Michigan Organizing Project (M.O.P) members, February 25th at 7PM in the gymnasium of St. Joseph Catholic Church, 930 Lake Street, Kalamazoo, MI.


Large Turnout For Public Meeting At Hispanic Council

(Majyck Radio)– The United For A Better Future public meeting was hosted at  the Hispanic American Council Thursday evening.  Representatives from the U.S Citizen and Immigration Services presented facts about the organization and their mission. They were also available after the presentation to answer individual questions and to directly address the concerns of the community.

The coalition consisted of speakers from the Hispanic American Council, ISAAC, Association of Kalamazoo For Justice, the YWCA of Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center and the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP.

Dr.Charles Warfield, President of the local branch of the NAACP, summed up the evening with, “You are not alone” repeated a total of nine times. The impact of those four words brought the almost 200 hundred people in attendence to their feet in a standing ovation of  support for  the energy Dr. Warfield evoked into the words.

Lorie Mercedes, Executive Director of the Hispanic Council, started her speech  with a quote from the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and explained  her message  surrounding immigration reform. “Tonight is not only about immigration. Tonight is not only about undocumented families. Tonight it’s about unity it’s about social justice it’s about democratic principles”.

A handful of Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Officers including Rev. Denise Poise, Community Relations Specialist at Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Assistant Chief Donald Webster, Sargeant Tim Randall,  and Assistant Chief Brian Uridge were present. Uridge emphaszsed that he and his officers are not interested in your immigration status, only if you are a victim of a crime. “At public safety we have three goals. We don’t have a lengthy mission statement. We have three goals. The first goal is to reduce crime, build trust and deliver the best service possible. This is why our community is so great. I have worked here for 22 years and this is just one of the many ways that we build trust. These type of community meetings where we can sit together and discuss issues and together come up with solutions”.

Also in attendance were numerous elected officials, including State Rep. Sean McCann, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller and a representative from Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s office, City Commissioners including Stephanie Moore hosting the meeting and Mothers of Hope.

Association of Kalamazoo for Justice Meeting will have a meeting of February 7th at 6PM in the St. Joseph Library located at the Hispanic American  Council.

National Immigration Reform 2013 Campaign Launch


On Tuesday the Michigan Organizing Project held a press conference outside of Congressman Fred Upton’s office on the Kalamazoo Mall to kick-off the nationwide Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

The coalition is forming partnerships with other statewide organizations to urge President Barack Obama and Congress to pass immigration reform in 2013.

More than 50 people including community leaders from across the state came holding signs that read “Family Unity” and “Immigration Reform in 2013” to show their support. The reform prioritizes keeping families together by establishing and implementing policies to support immigrants in achieving their full potential as active contributors to America’s social, economic and civic fabric. Deported family members will have the opportunity to reunite with families they were forced to leave and provide humane treatment and due process for people detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Jennifer Amaya said she hasn’t seen her mother since 2009 when she followed the advice of an immigration lawyer and returned to Mexico to file for citizenship. Despite being married to a U.S. citizen and having two children who are U.S. citizens, her mother will never be allowed to return to the U.S. because she had been previously deported.

“That news was the hardest thing I’ve had to live with,” Amaya said. “I haven’t been able to hug my mom in four years. My younger brother and sister have had to grow up without a mom.”

Kalamazoo County Richard Fuller, Kalamazoo County Sherriff sent a statement read by a M.O.P organizer,   “It is my job to keep our county safe.” I have been in the public safety field for the past 28 years.  Over that time I have seen ways to help make things better for everyone. One of the things we can fix to make all our lives better and safer is to work on immigration reform.”

Father Bob Creagan, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena in Portage, said we are a nation of immigrants our ancestors came here not to cause harm but to pursue their dreams to pursue a better life. This is the same dream that people seek today.

State Rep. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, said at the conference that immigrants are essential for Michigan’s economic recovery.  We need the energy and entrepreneurial spirit that the immigrant community members bring more than ever. Asian and Latino entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and ten of thousands of jobs to Michigan’s economy. Statewide there are more than 10,000 businesses employing over 18,000 people and Asian and Hispanic residents run locally over 500 businesses.

Gerardo Zamora, a student eligible for Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) and a graduate of Western Michigan University with academic honors in graphic design, has been unable to accept any job offers related to his education because of his legal status.

Executive Director of The Kalamazoo Promise, Dr. Janice Brown said the Kalamazoo Promise isn’t just for Kalamazoo. SW Michigan, Kalamazoo County, St. Joe County, Van Buren County we are all striving to make sure education and higher education is a goal for our entire community of SW Michigan. We are merely a symbol of that because we pay for youth-regardless of their immigration status to go to college.

Applause and cheers erupted following the statement.

Creagan and Jose Aguilera, a board member of MOP, delivered more than 300 signatures supporting reform to Upton’s office. Aguilera said he has been unsuccessful with meeting Upton to talk about immigration reform. Staff members assured Aguilera that open dialouge is welcome when he’s available.

Upton recently met with United For A Better Future, a coalition made up of the Hispanic American Council, ISAAC, Association of Kalamazoo For Justice, the YWCA of Kalamazoo, the National Council of La Raza and the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center.

The coalition will hold a public meeting on immigration reform Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Hispanic American Council, 930 Lake St., in Kalamazoo.

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