On Thursday night, November 20th, a diverse group of Long Beach residents—mothers, fathers, young people and others, gathered in Cesar Chavez Park in the cold night air to watch the historic Executive Action announcement by President Obama. Anticipation was high in the knowledge that temporary protection from deportation and access to work permits could dramatically improve the daily lives for as many as five million undocumented Americans.
California has the largest undocumented population of any state in the U.S. and from the work we do every day with immigrants and children of immigrants in the Greater Long Beach community, we know how many lives these changes can affect. The Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition has fought for over eight years for local, statewide, and federal immigration reform, and we are gracious to hear an announcement acknowledging this work and the struggles in our community.
We salute the tireless activists, especially the courageous members of the immigrant youth movement, who have pushed so hard for immigration reform, and we commend President Obama for taking the initiative to move us forward.
We know, however, that this Executive Action is just one more step towards true immigration reform. We need to extend temporary protections to the rest of the 11 million undocumented Americans in the U.S. and turn temporary protections into a permanent avenue to full citizenship for all of those who contribute to this country through their work and have put down roots in our communities.
We in the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition will continue to support immigrant students, workers, and families in our community while we continue to advocate for an end to mass deportations and more just and pragmatic immigration policies. Together with other organizations throughout the state and our nation, we believe that we can create a nation where no one is relegated to the shadows and everyone can contribute to our collective well-being.