Adhikaar’s Quarterly Newsletter (October – December 2021)
Immigration: Our Fight for Green Cards Continues!
Immigrant communities continue to be left behind in the fight for immigration reform. Despite these challenges, we continue to mobilize our community members to push for immigration by engaging elected officials and bringing awareness to issues that impact us. Read about our organizing, training, and advocacy efforts below
In November 2021, our staff Megha Lama and fellow Nikita Maharjan Devkota led an in-person training with 17 TPS committee leaders in Virginia, organized by the members themselves. The training encompassed legislative advocacy and political power analysis, and included discussions on base building as well as challenges faced by TPS holders. They shared stories and expressed the urgency for a pathway to citizenship through registry (green cards) provisions in the Senate. Our members are committed to fighting for a permanent solution through green cards for all.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act (BBB), which included immigration reform. However, the Senate has yet to take action. We know the fight for justice is long and we continue to work with our members and coalition partners to ensure the demands of our community remain visible.
As part of our escalation strategy, we organized, participated, and mobilized to advance Greencards for All. Here’s a snapshot of some key mobilizing actions:
- During the escalation with NYIC in October, with 25+ members, we led a Deusi Bhailo (Diwali) action in front of Senator Schumer’s Brooklyn home where we reiterated our demands and sang songs through Deusi Bhailo and cultural chants,
- Along with our partners at SAALT, we co-authored a letter that was sent to Vice President Kamala Harries signed by 55 organizations, urging the VP to exercise her mandate and ignore the Parliamentarian’s recommendations that blocked the pathway to citizenship,
- As a part of Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP), we hosted a press conference where our Virginia member leader and Nepali TPS holder Sitar Lama spoke. We also held an interactive installation on Capitol Hill of 400 green cards that represented the 400,000 TPS holders and their families who work, pray, live, and have built futures for themselves in this country,
- In November New York, we took part in the “11 Days of Action for 11 Million” led by NICE, starting with the first day where our staff and TPS holder Anil Shahi spoke at the rally in Times Square and on the last day where our member leader Brinda Rai spoke about the urgency for green cards now at the concluding rally, along with 50+ Adhikaar members in attendance,
- In Brooklyn, we took part in a number of escalation actions to pressure Senator Schumer to champion for citizenship as Senate Majority Leader. In October our member leader Rajesh Shrestha and staff Megha Lama also camped out of the Senator’s Brooklyn home. On November 12th, members and staff led the march in an 11 miles march from Manhattan to Brooklyn along with partner organizations,
- Engaged in an aggressive digital call to action.
In October, our Executive Director Pabitra Khati Benjamin, and Director of Programs and Organizing Narbada Chhetri participated in a civil disobedience in front of the White House as part of a coordinated action with We Are Home to pressure the President and Congress to take action on citizenship for all. While the action took place, our Virginia membership joined the crowd rallying outside the White House. A day before, our TPS members from Colorado and Texas traveled to DC to lobby with us at Congressional member meetings.
Led six legislative meetings with Congressmembers from New Hampshire, Michigan, Colorado, Virginia, New York, and Texas, and were attended by 13 member leaders where they shared stories with their respective Representatives and Senators.
On phone calls and address social media inquiries about legal and basic questions about TPS from TPS holders and others around the country, and resolved 120+ inquiries related to work permits, travel documents, new applications, and renewals.
Our Work on Language Justice and Casework
At Adhikaar, we understand that for our immigrant worker membership, it’s not enough to just run campaigns. We also need to find ways to protect and provide for them through services like casework. Some wins from last quarter:
- Provided an intake of 47 cases on immigration, labor trafficking survivor, worker rights, domestic violence, housing and others,
- Supported 35 members with IDNYC appointments through Queens Borough President’s Office and IDNYC related information,
- Supported a family that recently came to NYC from Texas with immigration, housing and other issues. We provided them our Emergency Relief Fund, Food coupons and provided them with different resources,
- Supported a member to request a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act),
- One of the restaurant worker members with wage claim finally got his hearing with the NJ Department of Labor after two years and received $3500 through settlement,
- Assisted two members file wage complaint with the Department of Labor after referring them to the legal service provider and providing members support with document collection, interpretation and meeting coordination with attorneys,
- One of our survivor’s family petition got approved after 2-3 years,
- Connected with an attorney that is supporting a Nepali-speaking individual in detention center and we supported by connecting them with a Nepali publisher who could send him a Nepali book and we reached out to some of the members to write pen pal letters.
Stay tuned for the next part of the newsletter on our Domestic Worker and Anti-trafficking Survivors programs.