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Prayer Vigil Outside Of ICE Office Planned For Sept. 5th

Manchester, NH – Members of area religious congregations will hold a vigil at the Norris Cotton Federal Building in Manchester on Tuesday morning to pray for an end to immigrant deportations.

“Deportations are tearing apart families, tearing apart congregations, tearing apart our communities,” said the Rev. Joseph Gurdak of Saint Anne/Saint Augustin Church in Manchester, whose congregation includes many immigrants.  “We are offering prayers for this cruel practice to end.”

The vigil will begin at 8:30 AM with a “Jericho Walk” around the building, led by the Rev. Eric Jackson, pastor at Brookside Congregational Church and President of the Greater Manchester NAACP.

The prayer vigil coincides with required appointments that dozens of immigrants have with officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for immigrant detention and deportation, which has offices on the building’s second floor.

“Our traditions call on us to love our neighbors and welcome the stranger,” observed the Rev. Rev. Becca Girrell of the Lebanon United Methodist Church.  “My faith compels me to stand with those who face the danger of detention and deportation, so that if nothing else, they know they are not alone. My hope is that our presence conveys that people of faith denounce these cruel practices, support keeping families together, bear witness to the humanity and dignity of all persons, and believe in a Divine who holds all people’s lives as sacred.”

Following the Jericho Walk, prayers and readings will be led by Father John Bucchino of Blessed Sacrament Church, the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, and other faith leaders.

Among those who are required to report to ICE on Tuesday are more than twenty members of the state’s Indonesian immigrant community, whose members fled from religious persecution but who have been denied asylum in the United States.

Interfaith Groups To Hold Prayer Vigil To Show Support For Immigrants

Interfaith prayer vigil at federal building June 6 to show support for immigrant families facing threat of deportation

 

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE —New Hampshire faith leaders will host an interfaith prayer vigil outside the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Tuesday, June 6, from 8:30 to 9:30 AM to show support for immigrant families who are facing the threat of detention and deportation.

The peaceful vigil outside the Norris Cotton Federal Building, 275 Chestnut Street in Manchester, will call upon ICE to “Let them stay,” and to “Keep families together.”

More than 70 immigrants are scheduled for appointments with ICE on that day.  “Each time they report, they fear ICE will take them into custody for deportation,” said Rev. Eric Jackson, pastor of Brookside Congregational Church and president of the Greater Manchester NAACP.

“In many cases, these are people who have lived and worked as our New Hampshire neighbors for more than a decade,” he continued.  “We are praying for ICE to let them remain in New Hampshire with their families.”

Leaders of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish congregations are expected to participate.

Rally for Immigrant Justice May 1 in Manchester

Image of Latino American (Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE – A rally for immigrant and refugee justice will be held Monday, May 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. in Veterans Park in downtown Manchester.

“For more than 100 years, May Day has been a day for marches, rallies and other events to celebrate the rights of workers.  But for at least a dozen years, it has also been a day to show support for immigrants and refugees who seek a better life in America,” said Eva Castillo, of the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees.

The Manchester event is one of many May Day rallies, parades and demonstrations throughout the country in support of the immigrants and refugees who seek a better life in this country.  Many of them are already a part of our workforce, realizing their dream of a life in America.  Some face the threat of detention and deportation.

Others, many fleeing war and famine, are barred by country-based entry bans.

“Join us as we commemorate May Day and say ‘No’ to detentions, deportation, walls and travel bans,” said Castillo.

Speakers at Monday’s rally include: Manchester immigration attorney Lina Shayo; Concord Imam Mustafa Akaya; Harrisville resident Lina Hervas; the Rev. Sandra Pontoh of the Indonesian Community Support in Dover ; the Rev. Joe Gurdak, pastor of St. Anne and St. Augustin in Manchester; the Rev. Eric Jackson, president of the Greater Manchester NAACP, and NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett.

Sponsoring organizations are: NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, American Friends Service Committee-NH Program, Granite State Organizing Project, ACLU-NH, Welcoming NH, Sisters of Mercy, NH COSH, NH AFL-CIO, NH State Employees Association/SEIU Local 1984, and Indonesian Community Support.

May Day Rally For Immigrant Justice

DURHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Rejection of racism, xenophobia, and anti-Muslim sentiment will be the theme of the annual May Day Rally for Immigrant Justice to be held this year on the Durham campus of the University of New Hampshire. 

The rally will take place at 4:30 pm on the lawn in front of Thompson Hall in the center of the UNH campus.

“Speaking out for policies rooted in compassion, justice, and fairness is more important than ever,” said Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, a Manchester-based group that has been involved in organizing annual May 1 rallies since 2006. 

Speakers at the rally will include Castillo;  the Rev. Sandra Pontoh of the Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ in Madbury; Gabby Greaves of the UNH Black Student Union; Auderien Monareh, a UNH student; and the Rev. Larry Brickner-Wood of the Waysmeet Center. 

The Leftist Marching Band, a Portsmouth-based ensemble, will perform.

Sponsors of the rally include the Waysmeet Center, the Immigration Working Group of the United Church of Christ NH Conference, Maranatha Indonesian UCC Church, American Friends Service Committee, and the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. 

Previous May 1 rallies have been held in Portsmouth, Dover, Manchester, Nashua, and Concord.

May 1, which is celebrated as International Workers Day in many countries, has over the past decade become a day for immigrants and their allies to rally in the United States. 

Additional updates will be posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1086051458124426/?active_tab=posts

 

Richard Trumka Takes On Donald Trump’s Racist Hate Filled Campaign

Working families deserve better than a campaign fueled by fear and hatred.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, has some straight forward talk about Donald Trump’s campaign that divides workers, attacks immigrants and people of color.

From his initial campaign announcement, Trump’s campaign has been focused on immigrants and people of color.  He referred to Mexican’s as “rapists” and “drug dealers” and wants to build a wall across our southern border to keep people out. Trump spews hatred like an erupting volcano.

Trump’s campaign stops have been riddled with violent acts against people of color for speaking out against Trump’s fear mongering and oppressive ideas.

Recently Trump said that workers wages are “too high.” I would expect nothing less from a greedy capitalist who has been taking advantage of working men and women his entire career.

Too many Americans are struggling to make ends meet. Many are working 50 or 60 hours a week between two and three jobs and still one-in-four children are food insecure.  Trump makes more in one minute ($434) than a minimum wage earner makes in an entire week.

Listen to the strong warning offered by Trumka, the son of an Italian and Polish immigrant family, about how America deserves better than Donald Trump.

Video Link

Trump Hotel Workers Say Donald Can “Start Here” If He Wants To “Make America Great Again”

Trump: “Make America Great Again.”

Hotel Workers in Las Vegas: “Mr. Trump, Start Here.”

Trump Casino Las Vegas (FLICKR Jim G)

Trump Casino Las Vegas (FLICKR Jim G)

Las Vegas, NV – “Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again,’” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “Mr. Trump should start right here in Las Vegas with workers at his hotel. Many of them are immigrants who work hard to provide for their families. They deserve equal treatment and should be respected for their contributions to this great city.”

On Friday, August 21, 2015 at 5 p.m., employees from Trump International Hotel Las Vegas will march from Las Vegas Boulevard to their hotel to demand equality. They will be joined by clergy leaders, community organizations, elected officials, and union workers throughout the city. Over 500 Trump Las Vegas employees are seeking to unionize so that they can have the American Dream and have a better life for themselves and their families.

“I came from Mexico many years ago and became an American citizen to have a better opportunity for me and my family,” said Maria Jaramillo, a housekeeper at the Trump Las Vegas. “This country is a nation of immigrants, and we all work hard and deserve to be treated fairly.”

“I was born in America, and, with my union job, I have the opportunity to provide for my family. That’s why I support Trump workers who want to unionize,” said Pamela Parre, a banquet server at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, an MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas. “Mr. Trump can make America better by treating his employees with dignity and respect, and make their jobs great jobs just like mine.”

In June 2014, five Trump Las Vegas employees were unfairly suspended for exercising their legal right to wear a union button and organize their coworkers. After the Culinary Union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Trump Las Vegas, these workers were returned to work with back pay. In June 2015, the Culinary Union filed additional charges with the NLRB asserting that the Trump Las Vegas violated the federally protected rights of workers to participate in union activities. Some of the new charges include incidents of alleged physical assault, verbal abuse, intimidation, and threats by management.

The Culinary Union is the largest labor union as well as the largest immigrant organization in Nevada, representing hospitality workers who come from 167 countries and speak over 40 languages. The Culinary Union and the national organization UNITE HERE have long campaigned for immigration reform and the rights of immigrant workers, including the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride in 2003, and continues the fight to achieve comprehensive, worker-centered immigration reform.

Immigrants Generated $252 Million In The NH Economy

There is no denying that immigrants built this great nation and are continuing to shape her every passing day.  Every day immigrants are coming to America to create a better life for themselves and their families.  These immigrants are chasing their own American Dream by starting their own small businesses.

Immigration reform for america

Image by Sasha Y. Kimel on Flicker

According to research from the Immigration Policy Center, between “2006 to 2010, there were 4,253 new immigrant business owners in New Hampshire.”  The IPC also found that in 2010 over 5.7% of all business owners in New Hampshire were foreign-born.

If you listen to Fox News, the only immigrants in America are freeloaders who want to collect welfare and live off the government.  This could not be further from the truth.  Those ‘lazy immigrants’ account for a significant portion of New Hampshire’s net business income.

“In 2010, new immigrant business owners had a total net business income of $252 million, which is 5.8 percent of all net business income in the state.”

Immigrants are flocking to our country to start their own small businesses in the hopes that someday they will become rich! And for some, that is exactly how it worked.

  • New Hampshire is home to many successful companies with at least one founder who was an immigrant or child of an immigrant, including well-known companies such as the footwear company Timberland. Based in Stratham, Timberland currently employs more than 5,800 people and has over $1.5 billion in annual revenue.
  • Sonny Vu, originally from Vietnam, and Sridhar Iyengar, the son of immigrants from India, founded AgaMatrix in 2001. Based in Salem, New Hampshire, their company distributes what Vu and Iyengar call the “next generation” of blood glucose monitoring products for diabetes. AgaMatrix invented and in 2012 began producing the first FDA approved blood glucose meter that directly connects to the iPhone and iPod Touch.
  • In Manchester, refugees from Bhutan opened a market in July 2013. Himalayas General Store provides familiar products from Bhutan to refugees, but also markets a wider variety of goods to other under-served ethnic groups.

The list goes on and on.

We as Americans have always taken pride in being innovative and entrepreneurial.  Many Americans take that giant leap and start their own business. For some the business grows into Apple or Facebook, for others it falls apart after a couple of months.  That – the opportunity to at least try – is the American Dream.

Millions of immigrants are stuck waiting for Congress to give them the roadmap to citizenship they need to chase their own American Dream.  They are waiting for Congress to take the first step, and let them in.

Immigration is a part of who we are as Americans.  I am an Irish, English and Polish “mutt” with roots in New England for over 150 years.  Does that make me any less of an American?  Would it matter if my grandparents were born in Mexico instead of Ireland?  No, it would (and should) not.

People from around the world are coming to the United States; and for hundreds of years we have welcomed them.

Until now.

What are we waiting for?

Now is the time we should be welcoming immigrants with open arms once again – so they can bring their entrepreneurial spirit with them, to help our economy grow.

Senator Kelly Ayotte Twists The Facts About Immigrants & Taxes With Unemployment Insurance Amendment

This week, as the Senate decides whether to extend unemployment benefits, some Senators are looking for “offsets.”  Unfortunately, a fallback for some members of Congress has become targeting programs for immigrants, without regard to the true fiscal or social impact.

Senator Kelly Ayotte Official Portrait

Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

One recurring target has been the Addtional Child Tax Credit for immigrant taxpayers. An amendment proposed by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) prososes to “pay for a three-month extension of unemployment benefits by stopping a scheme that currently allow {sic} illegal immigrants to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit.”

Calling a program which allows immigrant workers to pay taxes and legally claim tax credits a “scheme” distorts reality. Immigrant workers—both undocumented and lawfully present immigrants—like all workers, are required to pay taxes and many do so using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The IRS has determined that ITIN filers are indeed eligible to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit for their qualified children. Those who are undocumented pay into a system that makes them ineligible for the vast majority of benefits their tax dollars fund.

Weeding out fraud is important and while there have been some reports of fraud in the program, just as there is in other tax programs, the “fraud” doesn’t occur when an ITIN holder claims the credit. Ending the entire program punishes those who are seeking to follow the law.

ITIN filers are doing the right thing by paying into the tax system with little hope of collecting any future benefits for themselves. According to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, in 2010, ITIN filers reported $60 billion dollars in wages. There may be debate as to whether this is fair or reasonable policy, but it is not a scheme, nor is it fraud. The debate about ITIN filers and the Additional Child Tax Credit should be fueled by honest reporting and reliable facts.

Via press release from the Immigration Policy Center

Founder of New American Africans to Receive 2014 MLK Award

Photo credit Becky Field

Photo credit Becky Field

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Honore Murenzi, founder and director of New American Africans, will receive the 2014 Martin Luther King Award on January 20 at the 32nd annual Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration in Manchester.

The Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration will take place at the Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral Community Center, 650 Hanover Street in Manchester, on Monday, January 20, 2014.  The event begins with a potluck meal and social hour starting at 2 pm, with the program running from 3 to 5 pm.

Murenzi came to New Hampshire as an immigrant from Africa in 2001, speaking little English.  While working as a French teacher, he became aware of the many problems faced by the growing population of immigrants and refugees, especially those who had fled from extreme violence in Africa.   Murenzi began to devote more and more of his time to providing emergency support, food, interpretation, help navigating the complicated system of public and charitable assistance, and in 2004, he founded New American Africans.

Photo credit Becky Field

Photo credit Becky Field

The Martin Luther King Award is given each year to a New Hampshire resident whose work carries on the spirit of Dr. King, according to the Martin Luther King Coalition, the group that sponsors the annual celebration.

The Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration will also include awards for the winners of the Martin Luther King Arts and Writing Contest.  In addition, the Coalition will present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Bill Davis, Sr., an Auburn resident long active in local projects promoting civil rights and respect for cultural diversity.

Shujaa Graham of Witness to Innocence will be the guest speaker.

Honore Murenzi founded New American Africans with the vision that Africans in New Hampshire have much to offer each other in their efforts to find security and welcome, and also that newcomers and local people need each other as well.  “Together we will be stronger” has been the group’s motto since its first days, and is the vision that continues to guide Murenzi’s work.

Based in Concord, New American Africans now helps refugees and immigrants get access to serves such as education, housing, employment, and health care, for example by offering translation in Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, French, Swahili, and other African languages.    The organization also has a youth program, which offers after-school tutoring and activities of middle school and high school students in Manchester and Concord.

Murenzi was among the first people to respond to Concord families whose homes were defiled by racist graffiti in 2011 and led the development of the “Love Your Neighbor” project.

“Murenzi deserves the Martin Luther King award because of his steadfast love and compassion for newcomers in New Hampshire, and for all who are poor and isolated,” said Sister May Cronin, a spokesperson for the Martin Luther King Coalition.  “He works every day to create the beloved community in New Hampshire, calling all of us to acknowledge that we need each other and that our lives will be happier and more abundant when we take care of each other.”

For further information, see http://www.mlknh.org/

Deportation, Physical Abuse, & Stolen Paperwork; What Will It Take For A Vote On Immigration?

Don't deport my momEveryone is jumping up and down over the fact the House of Representative finally did something!  Yeah, they passed a bill!  The fact is that passing this budget is a big deal for a couple of reasons.

Passing this budget means that we will not be forced into another government shutdown.  The budget funds the government for the next two years.  This also means that Congress will not be jumping from crisis to crisis every three months.

Passing this budget also means that the house can actually put aside their ideologies and pass legislation is a bi-partisan way.  Speaker John Boehner did something nobody expected him to, and chastised the right-wing conservative groups for trying to block this budget.   The question is whether or not Speaker Boehner will continue this rebellion and start to actually pass a few bills in the house.

I know just where Boehner can start, comprehensive immigration reform.  You know the bill that already passed the Senate with strong bi-partisan support, and is just waiting for the House to pass it.  The Speaker has said on multiple occasions that passing immigration reform is a major part of the Republican agenda and it should be done.

Sadly the House of Representative closed up shop for the year. They went back home to their districts without even discussing immigration.  Now we must wait until early January until we see if John Boehner will bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“Our immigration system desperately needs reform. Our broken system puts significant strain on our communities. It also hurts American workers and legal immigrants, not to mention illegal immigrants, whose families live on the margins of our society,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).

That means we will have to wait about 25-30 days before the House reconvenes and a vote can be held.  In those 30 days over 30,000 aspiring citizens will be deported.  30,000 families ripped apart.  On average 1,100 aspiring  citizens are deported every day.

To add further insult to these people who are chasing their own version of the American Dream, the Immigration Policy Center reports that immigrants are being mistreated while in US custody.

“Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody”. (Emphasis added)

If we put these figures into action that would mean that in the next 30 days while Congress is on vacation and not passing immigration reform, 3,000 immigrants will be physically abused during their deportation.

As if physically abusing immigrants already in custody is not enough, it is now being reported that over “one-third (1/3) of all immigrants taken into US custody had their belonging taken from them and not returned.”  Some items may be trivial, but not all of them. “Among deportees who were carrying Mexican identification cards, 1 out of every 4 had their card taken and not returned. The taking of possessions, particularly identity documents, can have serious consequences and is an expression of how dysfunctional the deportation system is.

The Immigration Policy Center continues:

 Our study finds that migrants processed through Operation Streamline, or held in detention for a week or longer, are most likely to have their possessions taken and not returned.”

How can this be happening?  Just because they are not American citizens does not mean that the US Government can trample their rights.  This is just another reason we need to pass immigration reform.  We must put an end to the daily deportation of these aspiring  Americans.

To bring attention to the need for real immigration reform advocates began a ‘Fast for Families’ on the National Mall.  Many of the faster’s are well known in the ongoing fight for immigration reform, including Eliseo Medina.  The Fast For Families includes bio’s of all of the faster’s, and this is what they said about Eliseo:

Eliseo Medina is described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most successful labor organizers in the country” and was named one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Latino Leaders” in Poder Magazine. Medina served as the International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for 17 years (1996 – 2013)

They began their fast with a declaration.

What is our faith, our words and our history worth if not translated into action, sacrifice and redemption? The world has witnessed the beliefs and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez translate in courageous acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to gain justice for a community of people who were underserved and discriminated against. We now humbly attempt to follow the examples of these great teachers and the teachings of Scripture to align our own hearts with the heart of God, who desires justice for immigrants and immediate justice for the 11 million undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters within our borders. Our faith requires nothing less. Today begins our vow to abstain from sustenance.”

(Read the full Fast for Citizenship: The Moral Obligation to Pass Immigration Reform)

These brave men and women have been fasting for over 35 days now.  They have received visits from many supporters including President and Mrs Obama, Rep John Lewis (D-MS), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and many more.  To bring more attention to their fast, members sent multiple letters to Speaker Boehner asking him to bring the bill up for a vote.

After 30 days of surviving on nothing but water, the fasters have handed the torch over to a new group of fasters.  Congressional Representatives and union leaders quickly stepped up to fast for immigration reform. Every day since, members of Congress and immigration advocates have come forward to fast on the National Mall in their place.

How many families will have to be ripped apart by deportation before Speaker John Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor of the house?

How many people will be physically abused, and have their property and identification cards stolen from them before Speaker Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor?

What does it take to convince the Speaker that we need immigration reform now!

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