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If We Have The Will, We Can Make It Happen!

The year 2013 was an emotional rollercoaster ride for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. When the U.S. Senate approved their version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, many believed that we would finally see a solution to our broken immigration system. In the fall, the enthusiasm plunged, when republicans in the House said they would not approve any bill that would include a pathway to citizenship. Then, we were happy again, when democrats presented their own bill which was supported by 3 republicans.

However, we finished the year sad, when Speaker of the House, John Boehner declared that we would have to wait until 2014 to see immigration reform.

In North Carolina, when our community heard that obtaining drivers licenses would be a reality, many breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, our people would be able to drive with confidence. But, that happiness turned to despair, when the people realized that they would have to give up certain other rights.

In the end, it looked like we finished 2013 with no victories. But, in reality, our people achieved a lot during this past year. We never would have seen such a progressive bill from the Senate, if so many of us Latinos had not turned out to vote in the 2012 elections. Elected officials realized that our vote decides elections. While the Senate bill was being voted on, Republicans conducted a study which had as a result the lesson that if they want to win the 2014 elections they need to vote in favor of immigration reform.

On the state level, after educating themselves about all the negative clauses in the supposed drivers license law, the people rose up and opposed the bill. Our community executed a successful campaign of calls, petitions, and lobby visits to educate our representatives in the General Assembly. In the fall, our representatives, decided to move to a study committee, all of the anti-immigrant clauses, in order to reconsider them. The only part of the bill that was approved was an expansion of who qualified to work in the state, under E-verify.

None of this would have been possible without the work and dedication of our community. Instead of staying home and complaining, our people said “enough” and they mobilized themselves. We have the same opportunity to win more victories this year. Now is the time that we get motivated and get to work and we dedicate ourselves to educate and mobilize our community. With all that we achieved last year, imagine what we can win this year!

We will have our first opportunity to unite and grow our movement, on Saturday February 8. I invite you to participate in the annual demonstration Historic Thousands on Jones Street. Thousands of activists from around the state attend each year, with the purpose of making the voices of our people heard, to demand fair wages for all workers, immigrant rights, affordable quality healthcare for everyone, protecting our right to vote, fair housing, reform our prisons and abolish the racist death penalty, and much more.

We don’t just have the opportunity to win this year. We have the responsibility to do everything within our power to achieve our dreams and help our neighbors. If we don’t do it, who will?