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The drive is on: Licenses for immigrants now!

Commentary by Marisol Marquez |
June 27, 2014
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Tampa, FL - Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is stalled in Congress and no one is touching it - not the Democrats, not the Republicans and not President Obama. There are currently 1100 daily deportations; with a rough estimate of one immigrant deported every 1.3 minutes. Families are being split apart every minute of every day.

Related to the mass deportations are the terrible conditions of US detention centers. Even more horrifying are the massive numbers of undocumented children detained at the border for unknown amounts of time. Many of the children are Central Americans, but they are being deported to Mexico! Now immigrant burial sites are being uncovered in Texas, a direct result of how the US handles, or perhaps refuses to handle, immigration. There is no responsibility being taken by the US Government, and there is also no mention of anything to stop these abusive practices. As a response, the people are organizing themselves and fighting back!

Some notable fights of 2014 include the much-needed victory by groups like Students for a Democratic Society, United We Dream-Tampa Bay, Students Working for Equal Rights, and Florida Immigrant Coalition. Florida's Republican Governor signed a bill that would make in-state tuition a reality for non-status students, or students signed up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In June 2014, following over fifty simultaneous house and work raids, people including the groups Voces de La Frontera and Youth Empowered in the Struggle took to the streets demanding a stop to the deportations. Youth militancy is spreading in the face of escalating ICE repression.

Another increasingly popular mass organizing approach is to demand states like Florida issue driver's licenses for the undocumented. The people understand licenses can help stop deportations, and organizing for drivers’ licenses in state after state unites people in action. On May 1 in Minnesota, over a thousand immigrant rights supporters marched to the Capitol building demanding licenses for all the undocumented.

In addition, immigrants in California won their battle for the state to issue licenses for the undocumented. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) knows that issuing licenses to the undocumented of California threatens the control it has on immigrants. This is why the DHS recently rejected the proposed design of the driver's license. DHS wanted the words, "Not for Federal Identification" on the front of the license instead of on the back. They also want the license to be colored-coded or have a new design to differentiate it more from the other California licenses. This would expose undocumented immigrants and make them more vulnerable to harassment and deportations.

We must not let these attacks discourage us; we must continue organizing! From Florida, to California the people have had enough. When one family is destroyed every 1.3 minutes, the people must rise up! Let us continue joining fights like: licenses for all, deferred action for all, legalization for all, and to also keep in mind these are battles in the fight for complete equality and liberation!

Marisol Márquez is a member of Raíces en Tampa and also a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The current campaign for Raíces en Tampa is Driver's Licenses for All Undocumented - Florida. To become a supporter of the campaign, sign this petition.

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