Our first San Gabriel Valley FCNL Advocacy Team visit was to the office of Representative Judy Chu, a Progressive Democrat. Around 11 people showed up, twice as many as expected. We gathered at Peet's to prepare for our visit and to get to know each other better. We each shared about why we had decided to become active in this cause.
We then went to Judy Chu's office in Pasadena, a place I've visited many times before in the past four years. After introducing ourselves to Judy Chu's aides, Elizabeth Andalon and Anna Iskikian, I told them that people in her district care deeply about immigrants, as evidenced by how many showed up at her office. We want her to continue to stay strong in supporting the Bridge Act and opposing funding Trump's wall and other anti-immigrant legislation.
We thanked her for her efforts on behalf of immigrants, as well as women and workers. We also asked about the prospects for immigration legislation in DC.
Her aides said that things are very uncertain now in DC. The Dems have very little power. Trump is very unpredictable but seems to be worse than expected. They appreciated our coming to be supportive.
Michelle White, a lawyer and advocate for affordable housing, asked: What does the Representative need from constituents? Personal stories? More phone calls, social media posts, emails?
Response: They encouraged us to get in touch with friends and family in red states and districts and encourage them to support the Bridge Act and other legislation protecting immigrant rights.
Michelle also asked about the ramifications of defunding California, but the aides didn't have an answer.
Juliana Serrano, coordinator of the peace and justice program for All Saints Episcopal Church, asked about the "Reforming American Immigration for Strong Empowerment Act" (RAISE) that would limit the number of family-based visas so that only spouses and unmarried minor children of citizens and permanent residents can get green cards? (this will also rank immigrants by class and accept more highly educated immigrants over the "lower skilled" workers.) Are there plans to introduce a House bill like this Senate bill? Will she oppose it? For more information, read this: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/07/politics/cotton-perdue-immigration-bill/index.html
Response: they weren't aware of it, but promised to look into it.
Elke , a psychologist, shared articles showing that the crime rate among refugees and immigrants is lower than among the general population, both in the USA and in Germany, which accepted a million Middle Eastern refugees.
The aides told us that once the situation becomes more clear in DC, Judy Chu plans to do an "immigration clinic." We encouraged her to do one at the Reformation Lutheran Church on Orange Grove Blvd because this is in the middle of a largely Latino neighborhood, and this church has an Hispanic congregation. The Quaker Meeting nex door also hosts an Hispanic congregation. The aides were open to making that suggestion to Rep Chu.
They told us that they sometimes help immigrants who have problems with their status. They refer them to lawyers who provide pro bono or low cost counseling.
I shared that Quakers are looking into having events for our Latino neighbors focusing on "Know Your Rights as an Immigrant," "Dealing with the Stresses of Having Undocumented Family Members" and "What Legislation Do We Need to Support or Oppose at the Federal and State Level?" We hope that Rep Chu would be part of this community forum.
The Reformation Lutheran Church will be the location of our next lobby training on Sat. Feb 25, 12:30--2:30 pm. It is located at 570 E Orange Grove Blvd (next to the Quaker Meeting).