Last Friday, after 10 years of intense organizing, undocumented students across the country got the attention of President Obama. He sent a directive to the Department of Homeland Security to stop the deportations of DREAM Act students. Although this is far from enough to fully alleviate the pain of immigrants in the United States, it will significantly improve the lives of more than 800,000 youth in this country. This move has concrete and immediate impacts. Now I won't have to be scared whenever I encounter the police. I'll be able to freely open a bank account...and maybe apply for a loan. I'll even be able to drive without fear of deportation!
Similarly, the ENDA Executive Order -- an Executive Order barring LGBT workplace discrimination by federal contractors -- could give millions of LGBTQ Americans the right to come out of the closet. I was in the closet for years, hiding both my immigration status and my sexuality. While President Obama's immigration action will set 800,000 youth free from their "immigration closet," LGBTQ Americans like me will still have to hide their sexuality in order to keep their job. If the ENDA Executive Order is signed, tens of thousands of LGBTQ Americans who work for federal contractors will be able to come out of closets across the country!
This is why GetEQUAL Florida and Florida DREAMers will take to the streets on June 26. They will protest President Obama's lack of action on the ENDA Executive Order -- but they need your help. They want to deliver 10,000 signatures to the president on that day. Can you sign our petition and share it with your friends and family?
In 2010, I walked on the Trail of DREAMs, a walk from Miami to Washington, DC, with my two friends Gaby Pacheco and Carlos Roa, and my now-husband, Juan Rodriguez. Our goal was to share our stories and change the anti-immigrant rhetoric around the country but, most importantly, to end the deportation of DREAM Act students and the end of separation of immigrant families. When we began our walk, we were criticized for targeting President Obama and demanding for him to make our lives better.
People told us that we needed a permanent solution, which meant Congressional action. Although we also wanted Congressional action, it was clear to us that the cumbersome rules of Congress could delay the end of a cycle of terror in our communities. We were tired of seeing our friends missing in class or saying goodbye to neighbors and family members because of deportations. We wanted to stop the bleeding while we fought for a permanent solution for immigrant communities.
GetEQUAL organizers have a similar mentality. We want full federal equality for LGBTQ Americans, but we also cannot forget the immediate needs of millions of people in our community. Losing a job in this tough economy might mean foreclosure or homelessness to many. The ENDA Executive Order will protect 25% of the American workforce who work for federal contractors. This is why we have been hard at work in the last few weeks. GetEQUAL Texas protested at the annual shareholder meeting of ExxonMobil -- a corporation that refuses to protect their own employees without this Executive Order. And GetEQUAL DC asked attendees of Friday's White House Pride Reception to wear buttons calling the president to sign the ENDA Executive Order.
Now we are ready to take to the streets again. On June 26, GetEQUAL Florida and Florida DREAMers will protest President Obama’s fundraiser in Miami. We want him to hear your voice so we will deliver these petition signatures to him there. We need your help to reach our 10,000 signatures goal. Please sign the petition and share it with your friends and family.
Hasta la victoria,
P.S. -- My signature, "Hasta la victoria," means "Until victory comes" in Spanish. It's a commonly-used phrase to end speeches or letters in Latin American movements, and it reminds me that we have much work to do -- but we can reach victory when we organize and work together.
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