National Latino Groups Meet with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Immigration Reform

March 19, 2014

Contact: Paloma Zuleta, pzuleta at LULAC.org, (202) 812-4477

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), NCLR Action Fund, League for United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Hispanic Federation, Mi Familia Vota, and CASA de Maryland met with Governor Martin O’Malley to discuss the need for Congress to pass immigration reform this year. Specifically, the group requested that Governor O’Malley work with the Maryland Congressional Delegation to pass an immigration reform bill that meets the needs of the Latino community, including an earned path to citizenship.

Last summer the Senate, in a bipartisan effort, passed the immigration reform bill, S.744. While voters across the country support immediate action to fix our broken immigration system, the House of Representatives has refused to act and to date millions of undocumented Americans continue to live in limbo. Each day of inaction by the House results in about 1,100 needless deportations, and one-fourth of all deportees are parents of U.S. citizen children.

In response, the group of advocacy organizations issued a letter to national leaders requesting a meeting to discuss how they could help with the fight for immigration reform. The bipartisan group of leaders the coalition asked to meet included Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie (R-NJ), former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Governor John Kasich of Ohio (R-OH), Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NV), former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Governor Rick Snider of Michigan (R-MI), Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA), Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R-IN), and Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin (R-WI).

Maryland's Governor Martin O’Malley is the first leader to respond to our call of action. Maryland has a significant Latino and immigrant population. Latinos make up about 9 percent of the state’s population with rapid growth in Maryland’s DC suburbs. In 2011, Governor O’Malley signed into law the Maryland DREAM Act granting in-state tuition to undocumented youth with significant ties to the state, a victory he was later successful in defending at a voter referendum. And, last year, with the help of legislators, Governor O’Malley made Maryland the first state this side of the Mississippi River to permit undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses.

“We thank Governor O’Malley for meeting with our coalition at such critical juncture of the immigration reform debate,” said Hector E. Sanchez, Executive Director of LCLAA. “Collectively our organizations have mobilized our members all over the nation to reinforce the urgency of getting a vote on immigration reform in the House of Representatives. LCLAA looks forward to working with Governor O’Malley to complement our efforts and get immigration reform legislation with a path to citizenship on President Obama’s desk.”

“Passing immigration reform is the right thing to do for the millions of undocumented people who contribute to this country every day,” said Brent Wilkes, Executive Director of LULAC. “It’s time for Congress to put people over politics and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

"Governor O'Malley has been a vocal supporter and advocate for immigration reform for some time. Today we met with him - asking him to escalate his involvement in urging Congress to finally take action on the issue and for the White House to follow through on its evaluation of the current deportation process. We need the increased leadership of people like Governor O'Malley - the current system is broken and it is destroying Latino families nationwide,’ said Matthew McClellan, Executive Director of NCLR Action Fund.

"It's clear that many of our nation's governors, regardless of political party, have recognized the need for commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship. This should not be about politics. Immigration reform is an economic issue and a moral issue as it affects the lives of real people and speaks to our national values. Governors understand the need for reform and can send a clear message to Congress of the national benefits that would come from comprehensive immigration reform," said Ben Monterroso, Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota.

“While Governor O’Malley has taken leadership to advance civil rights for Latinos with state reforms, the most critical advances remain federal in nature and we need him to use his significant stature to move Washington forward,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland.

“There is broad consensus among the American people that our immigration system is deeply broken and failing our families, workers, business and economy. Governor O’Malley understands the need for immigration reform and has supported pro-immigrant state measures such as the Maryland DREAM Act and driver licenses for undocumented residents. Today we met with him to urge he increase his leadership in moving Congress forward and work with the President to end the needless pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from Congressional inaction,” said Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation.

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The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) is the leading national organization for Latino(a) workers and their families. LCLAA was born in 1972 out of the need to educate, organize and mobilize Latinos in the labor movement and has expanded its influence to organize Latinos in an effort to impact workers' rights and their influence in the political process. LCLAA represents the interest of more than 2 million Latino workers in the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), The Change to Win Federation, Independent Unions and all its membership. Visit LCLAA on the web at www.lclaa.org, on Facebook and Twitter.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 900 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.

The National Council of La Raza Action Fund (NCLR Action Fund) works to expand the power and influence of the Latino community to shape public policy and opinion in ways that strengthen the nation and improve the social, civic, and economic well-being of Hispanics through grassroots and national advocacy and lobbying. For more information visit www.nclraf.org

Mi Familia Vota is a national non-profit organization that unites Latino, immigrant, and allied communities to promote social and economic justice through increased civic participation by promoting citizenship, voter registration, and voter participation. Mi Familia Vota is one of the premiere Latino civic engagement organizations in the country with operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Texas. www.mifamiliavota.us

CASA de Maryland is the Maryland’s foremost Latino and immigrant organization, with over 50,000 members, and a national leader in supporting immigrant families and ensuring that all individuals have the core supports necessary for full participation in society. www.casademaryland.org/

The mission of the Hispanic Federation is to empower and advance the Hispanic community. Hispanic Federation provides grants and services to a broad network of Latino non-profit agencies serving the most vulnerable members of the Hispanic community and advocates nationally with respect to the vital issues of education, health, immigration, economic empowerment, civic engagement and the environment. For more information, please visit www.hispanicfederation.org.

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