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A pesar de las restricciones, grupos de la Florida registran más de 100,000 votantes

12 Oct

Karen García registra votantes en las calles de Broward, para la campaña Nuevos Americanos de la Florida, yo voto! de FLIC

Defensores de los derechos de voto registraron más de 100,000 votantes antes del 9 de octubre, a pesar de los grandes esfuerzos de las autoridades estatales para limitar el registro para los ciudadanos que viven en la Florida.

El Fondo Educativo de la Nueva Mayoría de la Florida, SEIU Florida, Mi Familia Vota Florida, la Coalición de Inmigrantes de la Florida (FLIC), la Red de Acción Nacional de la Florida y el Consejo Nacional de La Raza colaboraron para lograr este récord en registros. La mayoría de los registros se produjeron en el mes anterior a la fecha límite, después de que un juez federal anulara una nueva ley estatal que imponía restricciones a los grupos que participan en campañas de registro de votantes.

En última instancia, el esfuerzo para limitar el registro de votantes fue anulado por los tribunales, pero derrotado por el trabajo de personas comprometidas en asegurar que cada votante elegible tenga la oportunidad de votar en las próximas elecciones“, dijo Gihan Perera, director ejecutivo del Fondo Educativo de la Nueva Mayoría de la Florida. “Hoy, más de 100.000 personas podrán ejercer su derecho a participar en nuestra democracia“.

El propósito de la ley se hizo evidente con el descenso inmediato en los registros. Según algunos informes, el registro promedio de votantes en los últimos dos ciclos presidenciales fue de más de 200.000 nuevos demócratas en el año anterior a la elección (1 julio-31 julio). Este año, ese número se redujo a poco más de 11.000.

La ley era tan restrictiva que llevó al estado a amenazar a una maestra de secundaria en New Smyrna Beach con miles de dólares en multas por registrar a sus estudiantes a votar en el 2011.

Como estadounidenses debemos cuidar el derecho a votar, y es emocionante, especialmente para los nuevos ciudadanos, el participar activamente en la elección de nuestros líderes políticos“, dijo Yulissa M. Arce, coordinadora estatal de Mi Familia Vota Florida. “Después de que el estado generara listas para purgar votantes llenas de errores y los intentos por reducir el registro, los latinos de Florida están aún más comprometidos no sólo a registrarse sino también a votar en 2012.”

Los resultados de los registros demuestran que los votantes están dispuestos a participar en las elecciones, a pesar de los esfuerzos de legisladores y funcionarios estatales para limitar el acceso al voto, dice Kathy Bird de la Coalición de Inmigrantes de la Florida (FLIC).

A pesar de estos esfuerzos organizados para frenar la participación de los latinos a través de restricciones a grupos y purgas de votantes, NCLR está orgulloso de haber sido capaz de registrar más de 54.000 latinos para votar en las próximas elecciones“, dijo Jared Nordlund, Director Adjunto de campañas de NCLR. “Ahora esperamos dirigir nuestros esfuerzos para alentar a los latinos de la Florida a que aprovechen la oportunidad del voto temprano y se aseguren que se voto cuente”.

Durante el último mes hemos trabajado con los votantes en varios condados de la Florida, invitándoles a votar por sus familias y su comunidad“, añadió Bird. “En las semanas previas a las elecciones, vamos a asegurarnos de que los votantes tengan toda la información que necesitan y que se sientan empoderados para acudir a las urnas“.

Este mes, el Fondo Educativo de la Nueva Mayoría de la Florida, el Consejo Estatal de SEIU Florida, Mi Familia Vota Florida y la Coalición de Inmigrantes de la Florida, dedicarán su atención a la votación temprana que inicia el 27 de octubre. Los votantes también pueden votar por correo a través de la boleta ausente que puede ser solicitada con los supervisores locales de elecciones.

Los votantes que enfrente problemas para registrarse o para votar, pueden llamar al 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota para asistencia en español.

Despite restrictions, groups register more than 100,000 Florida voters!

12 Oct

FLIC canvassers registering New American voters in Broward County.
Photo: Getty Images

Voting rights advocates have registered more than 100,000 voters prior to the state’s registration deadline, despite extensive efforts by state officials to limit new registrations for Florida citizens.

Florida New Majority, SEIU Florida State Council, Florida Mi Familia Vota, Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), Florida National Action Network and the National Council of La Raza collaborated for the registration milestone.  The majority of the registrations occurred in the month before the state’s Oct. 9 registration deadline and after a federal judge’s late summer decision to overturn a new state law that placed restrictions on groups involved in voter registration drives.

“Ultimately, the effort to limit voter registration was overturned by the courts, but defeated by the work of people committed to ensuring every eligible voter has the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election,” said Gihan Perera, executive director of Florida New Majority. “Today, 100,000 more people will be able to exercise their right to participate in their democracy.”

The purpose of the new law’s was made clear with the resulting drop in registrations.  According to one news report, registrations over the past two presidential cycles averaged more than 200,000 new Democrats in the year before the election (July 1 to July 31). This year, that number had fallen to just over 11,000.

The law was so restrictive that it led the state to threaten a New Smyrna Beach high school teacher with thousands of dollars in fines as a result of registering her students to vote in 2011.

“As Americans, we cherish the right to vote and it is thrilling, especially for new citizens, to be active participants in electing our political leaders,” said Yulissa M. Arce, Mi Familia Vota’s Florida State Coordinator.  “After the state created purge lists filled with errors and the attempts to curtail registrations, Latinos in Florida are even more committed not only to registering, but to voting in 2012.”

The registration totals show that eligible voters are determined to participate in the election, despite a flurry of activity by legislators and state officials to limit access to voting, said Kathy Bird of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC).

“Despite these organized efforts to curb Latino participation through restrictions on third-party groups and voter purges, NCLR is proud to have  been able to register over 54,000 Hispanics to vote in the upcoming election,” said Jared Nordlund, Deputy Director, Field Campaigns.  “Now we look forward to turning our efforts to encouraging Florida Hispanics to take advantage of voting early and ensuring their votes count.”

“During the past month, we have worked with voters in various counties in Florida inviting them to stand up for their families and communities and vote,” Bird said. “In the weeks before the election, we will be working with voters to make sure they have all the information they need and that they feel empowered to go to the polls.”

This month, Florida New Majority and SEIU Florida State Council, Florida Mi Familia Vota and (FLIC) will turn their attention to early voting, which begins Oct. 27.   Voters can also vote by absentee ballot, which can be requested through local supervisors of election.

Any voters facing challenges with registration or with voting can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE for assistance or 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota for the assistance in Spanish.

In Florida, we put people before politicians

12 Jun

By: Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director from the Florida Immigrant Coalition 

Via Huffington Post

We are often told that Republicans don’t care about immigrants or working people. They only care about the 1 percent. Democrats, on the other hand, truly want what is best for both. If that is the case, then these are strange times in South Florida.

On Thursday, I attended a protest in front of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s offices in Aventura. Rep. Wasserman Schultz is the chair of the Democratic National Committee and one of the most powerful Democrats in D.C. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), on the other hand, is the powerful private prison company trying to build the largest for-profit immigrant detention center in a sleepy town in Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s district known as Southwest Ranches. Opposition to the facility is so overwhelming that only a few people have voiced support for it in any poll, town hall meeting or public hearing on the issue. It is not just immigrant rights activists opposing either, but people from all walks of life like the environmentalist Sierra Club, the ball-playing resident Udonis Haslem, the DREAM ACT-defying former Senator George Lemieux, the ACLU and thousands of others.

You would think that the democratic thing for Rep. Wasserman Schultz to do, in the face of such overwhelming opposition, would be to take a stand against the center. Instead, she has spent the last year doubling down for CCA, while refusing to meet with constituents.

A day before the Aventura rally, high school valedictorian Daniela Pelaez attended a press conference hosted by Republican Rep. David Rivera. Earlier this year, Daniela’s name brought national attention and thousands of people into the streets to stop her from being deported. This time, however, she wasn’t at the press conference to protest, but to stand, albeit lonely-looking, with the controversial congressman as he unveiled his DREAM ACT alternative. Rivera’s STARS ACT would allow some College-going undocumented youth a chance to stay in the country, but with so many restrictions that only a few could actually benefit.

The STARS ACT is not without controversy. Some immigrant communities think it reeks of opportunism, while others see it as the best opportunity for a better future. But considering that Rivera has caught more headlines for being under investigation by the FBI, IRS and other acronym-ed agencies, a DREAM Act alternative is probably the least controversial thing attached to his name.

Two days, two different events; one in which immigrants are joined by Not-In-My-Back-Yard residents to protest a nominally popular Democratic rep’s support for an unquestionably unpopular detention center; and another, where a respected undocumented student stands by a Republican rep. as he unveils a piece of immigration legislation that some immigrant students sort of like.

What is happening in South Florida?

Well, we have a Democratic president who seems sympathetic to our issues until he deports a record number of our loved ones. He is not helped when he has a DNC chair who talks a good game about supporting working families but then stands with one of the worst 1 percent corporations (CCA) against the working families in her district.

Immigrants, Latinos and working people have seen how far our loyalty has taken us, and we are not impressed. We are so not impressed that some of us will stand with anyone who is putting out a proposal, alleged ethics violations or not, while others won’t hesitate to voice our opposition to a proposed facility no matter how popular the Congresswoman that supports it is. For those of us who have lived the issues we fight for every day, what politicians do is more important than what they say.

No matter what, we will never put politicians before the best interest of our communities. The tears and fears we feel daily give us the courage and clarity to hold all accountable, even those who claim to be our friends, from both parties.

Obama: End S-Comm now!

16 Aug

Latinos in Miami protest Obama’s massive deportation program. Thousands rally nationwide. 

Today, we held a rally at the Miami-Dade county Democratic Party headquarters as part of a National Day of Action against ICE’s so-called “Secure Communities” (S-Comm) deportation program. Thousands also rallied in 9 other cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, Charlotte and Boston.

Immigrants in the US, especially Latinos, find outraging that over 1 million immigrants have been deported under President Obama’s watch, the largest amount of deportations in American history.

We delivered a copy of a national authoritative report, made public today, condemning S-Comm and recommending its termination.

The report – Restoring Community: A National Community Advisory Report on ICE’s Failed “Secure Communities” Program – shows the reality of what S-Comm is causing in our communities: encourages racial profiling, criminalizes immigrants, affect police-community relations and separates families.

Victims of Secure Communities are featured in this report, and three of them are from South Florida. Like Reina, whose husband was deported just two months ago from Miami-Dade County after being stopped for a minor traffic violation, leaving her and her US-citizen children behind. She was present today at the rally and shared her story with us and the media. After loosing her husband, Reina has to work harder to sustain her family, but she is afraid of driving or asking for job because she might end up arrested and deported. “What would happen to my children? Who will take care of them then”, said Reina.

Together with SWER, We Count, NDLON and Presente.org, we delivered over 35,000 petitions (including 1,500 Floridians) asking President Obama to STOP S-Comm now!

Take a look at more pictures from our action today here

RT: Obama risks alienating Latinos with

5 Mar

RT: Obama risks alienating Latinos with lack of immigration reform
(Joshua Hoyt @icirr): http://bit.ly/cHd4Eh #RI4A #p2