Four members of the Idaho community Action Network, Vicente Valentin from Nyssa, Ruby Mendez from Boise, and Alicia Reynaga and Shantel Huerta from Burley had the opportunity to travel to D.C. to join the Youth in Action event, a number of actions led by families and children on the House of Representatives who have stalled comprehensive immigration reform.
Throughout the week, children and parents shared their heartbreaking stories of how the broken immigration system has had a toll on their families. They chanted and sang in the hallways of the House building, and held pictures of loved ones and signs that read “Immigration Reform Now!”
The experience made participants hopeful and motivated to push for a vote on an immigration bill. For Alicia, the experience led to a roller coaster of emotions; it was a mix of excitement, happiness, anger, fear, and sadness. One moment that truly made her reflect was when the children shared their stories with Members of Congress, showing their bravery and their willingness to talk to state representatives.
“Their innocence and love for their family shows it all. If staff or the congressmen are not moved by that, then truly they do not care for the integrity of families,” Alicia said.
Vicente also was impacted by the fearlessness of the families, and the courage they took to confront their congressmen. They weren’t shy to let them know about their situations and their stories, and they were clear about the message that they do not want their families to be separated.
As part of one of their actions, the group confronted Bohener at the national Christmas tree lighting. The group was disrupted his moment and reminded him by chanting that there are families that are still being affected by the broken immigration system and that we need a vote now!
Vicente stated that “the courage of the group and the energy was incredible and I will never forget the bravery and the example that there are no barriers that will let us down.”
It was truly an unforgettable week where friendships were made and lifelong stories to be told were created. Most importantly, the children that were involved went back home with a sense of hope and bravery. This week of action definitely brought out the leadership within them, and they will not stop fighting for an immigration reform alongside their families. The Idaho team returned home satisfied and more energized than ever to continue our great work to pass immigration reform. We left our mark in D.C. and we shall fight to the end for all those families across the country and in our homes.