Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Minneapolis and Cambridge, MA Pass Resolutions in Support of UAFA

Minneapolis and Cambridge, MA are the two latest cities to pass resolutions in support of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers – these resolutions, along with letters of support (another recent one just came in from the city of Campbell, CA) may be what ultimately turns the tide in favor of equal immigration rights for same-sex binational couples. But we can’t do this without each and every one of us getting involved at some level.

Out4Immigration is an all-volunteer, grassroots group. We’re based all over the world and what we accomplish each week, or each month, is directly related to how much time each of us has. It’s encouraging to see a lot more people stepping up lately and putting aside a few hours a week to write and call their elected officials at a very local level to work passage of UAFA from the ground up.

For over a year, Out4Immigration has been conducting a letter writing campaign at Change.org. Each week, we pick five Senators and Representatives and generate an automated email asking them to co-sponsor the UAFA, or include its language in Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). These efforts alone, sometimes coupled with phone calls, personal letters and stories, have gotten us at least 20 additional co-sponsors in the House, and 5 in the Senate. They have led to UAFA being the immigration bill in Congress with the most co-sponsors! It makes it a no-brainer for any Senator or Representative who champions CIR to include us now. How could they explain leaving us out when we have so much support?

But this support is not enough. Politics is a game of give and take – and we know that the rights of same-sex binational couples or LGBT immigrants could easily be exchanged for support from a religious organization or two for a larger CIR bill. This is why we need to keep the pressure up. And thanks to a number of our volunteers we have been doing just that by getting letters of support and resolutions passed by local elected officials and city councils.

It’s fairly easy – but it takes persistence. You start by calling or writing to a local elected official -- your mayor, council member, state senator, governor (yes, we’ve had a member meet with his governor who is now telling the state’s two Senators to support UAFA!). You can click here to see some local actions on our website (and here to see many more). Typically, you tell your elected official your story. Even if you’re in exile, guess what? Your hometown wants to hear from you. Any local official worth his or her seat wants to know the reasons why someone moved away from their fair city. Start the dialogue. Ask the official for help by going on record calling for passage of UAFA. The official may do this him- or herself. They may write a Representative or Senator and ask them to support UAFA. Or, they may put together a resolution that calls on the city as a whole to support UAFA. This takes a vote by the city council – but don’t worry. We haven’t lost one yet. If a city passes a resolution, like St. Louis did last month, or Minneapolis and Cambridge, MA did just this week, then the city sends a letter notifying your Representative and both Senators that “the city of //fill in the blank// supports equal immigration rights for same-sex binational couples and urges the passage of the UAFA”.

It doesn’t matter if these members of Congress and the Senate are already co-sponsors. The idea is that these local actions create momentum. Think of the letter you send each week. Now multiply that by several hundred (a small town resolution) or a million (a large city resolution). These actions are like letters signed by hundreds, thousands or millions of people.

In the past month alone we’ve also had success in St. Louis, Seattle and Santa Clara County (San Jose, CA). We’ve had five resolutions passed previously in San Francisco, New York City, West Hollywood, Los Angeles and Chicago, and more are on the way. Each one of these actions was initiated by just one person, one O4I volunteer who made a phone call or wrote a personal letter telling a local elected official their story. This is what grassroots activism is all about. And O4I volunteers have been active in almost every state, from Arizona to Colorado to Connecticut and Delaware to Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and more! Join them so we can add your city or town to this growing list. Contact tom@out4immigration.org to get started.

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