en English

“We count… we are important.”

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[When lobbying], you have to be aggressive… define your goal and reach it… do not give up.  By chance I met with a senator in the cafeteria.  Our T-shirt stating ‘We are not the problem, we are the solution’ caught his attention.  I informed him of our cause – he wanted us to know that he and many senators worry about the problems faced by immigrants.  He invited us to eat lunch with him as a show of affection and wanted us to know that he supported us 100 percent.  I took this as a sign that our cause does matter…and that there is hope.

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Three hundred representatives of human rights organizations from around the country came together on March 7 to lobby for immigration policy reform and immigrant human rights in Washington, D.C. Sean Garcia of the LAWG informed participants of the lobbying process and helped them to prepare for congressional meetings.  As new legislation is being proposed in Congress, these organizations visited Capitol Hill along with immigrant workers to lobby for just immigration and border policies. The lobby day concluded with a rally at the Capitol, which bore witness to the largest gathering of immigrants and immigrant rights activists in Washington, D.C. in recent memory.

Carla Lozano, a member of the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR), was a participant of this one-day delegation. The Border Action Network is an organization specializing on the promotion of human and civil rights along the U.S./Mexican border. Carla Lozano, herself an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico, is currently a volunteer with the BNHR in Chaparral, New Mexico, training to be a social promoter of human rights. Carla works to inform local area immigrants of their constitutional rights and helps fundraise for community projects. She was kind enough to share her experiences of the Washington lobby day with us.

“Personally, it was a very positive experience. Primarily because of the opportunity to take part in a human rights cause, but also to hear of others’ testimonies, not only from the border, but throughout the country. Meeting with congressional staff gave the impression that what we say does have an influence, does have an impact. It was a great honor to represent those who are not legal [in this country]. [We] count…we are important. [We are all] immigrants united for one cause, workers who do not come [to this country] to harm but to be part of a society."

“[At the meeting with congressional staff] we were attended to with respect. The preparation for these meetings given to us by Sean [Mariano Garcia of LAWG] was truthful, we went in prepared. It was a preparation to express the cause with realism…professionalism and at a human level."

“[When lobbying], you have to be aggressive… define your goal and reach it… do not give up. By chance I met with a senator in the cafeteria. Our T-shirt stating ‘We are not the problem, we are the solution’ caught his attention. I informed him of our cause – he wanted us to know that he and many senators worry about the problems faced by immigrants. He invited us to eat lunch with him as a show of affection and wanted us to know that he supported us 100 percent. I took this as a sign that our cause does matter…and that there is hope."

“I realized that people are becoming more human. They realize that [immigrant rights violations] are not something that happens to others, it’s something that happens to all of us. People are starting to realize that they have rights, they have a voice. Knowing the truth liberates us… this is not a war, we do not seek victory, but we will work to receive justice respectfully. What is just is just, we need to help each other, support one another…respect each other. Those were the truths I learned from my visit. Everyone has the right to express themselves, everyone has a voice.”