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Pennsylvania state-wide Day of Action, Vigils, and 2,500+ Letter Delivery in support of driver’s licenses for PA undocumented immigrants

Immigrants, Clergy Send Message to PA House Transportation Committee Chairs Reps. Taylor and Keller:

“It’s time for the driver’s licenses for all in Pennsylvania, regardless of immigration status!”

CONTACT:
Nicole Kligerman, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
nicole@www.sanctuaryphiladelphia.org – @nsmphilly

WHAT State-wide day in support of driver’s licenses for undocumented Pennsylvanians
WHERE

 

 

 

 

WHO

Philadelphia vigil: 4PM, 2901 E. Thompson St, Philadelphia, Office of Representative John Taylor

Harrisburg vigil: 3PM – 7PM, State Capitol steps

York vigil: 6PM, Intersection of Market St. and S. George St

Reading vigil: 4PM, St. Peter’s Church, 322 S. 5th St, Reading

 

Vigil speakers:

-Blanca Pacheco, Community Organizer at New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
-Pastor Aldo Siahaan, Philadelphia Praise Center

-Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Tikkun Olam Chavurah

-Gerardo Flores, New Sanctuary Movement member

-Maria Juarez, Fight for Driver’s Licenses PA member

WHY Immigrants and clergy vigil across Pennsylvania to obtain support legislation for driver’s licenses for immigrants from the Chairs of the House Transportation Committee, State Representatives John Taylor (R) and William Keller (D)

PhiladelphiaOn Thursday, June 18, immigrants, clergy, and citizens hold vigils across Pennsylvania in support of legislation that would provide driver’s licenses for undocumented Pennsylvanians. The vigils ask the Chair and Democrat Chair of the House Transportation Committee, State Representatives John Taylor (R) and William Keller (D) for support in moving the legislation forward. Both representatives serve Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania House and have declined to meet with participation organizations about the legislation. .

The vigils pressure for critical driver’s license legislation to keep immigrant families safer from deportation, improve safety on the roads, and support Pennsylvania’s economy.

Participants will give Representatives Taylor and Keller over 2,700 support letters from Pennsylvania people of faith and 220 support letters from Pennsylvania clergy.  The vigil is part of a state-wide day of action, a coordinated effort between Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, York, Chambersburg, and Reading.

“With a driver’s license, I could expand my business selling food and employ others. I go out onto the streets with my grandchildren, and I need to carry an ID to keep us all safe,” says Gerardo Flores, a Mexican immigrant and member of New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.

There are currently 20 legislative co-sponsors in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and legislation will be re-introduced this month. Eleven states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico already give driver’s licenses to undocumented people. New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia and Fight for Driver’s Licenses PA are organizing across the state to make Pennsylvania the twelfth state to provide driver’s licenses.

“My congregants are mostly undocumented and work like any other human being. They buy groceries, go shopping, visit friends and family and go to the church. But they don’t have the liberty going to those places by car. The solution to this problem will be opening the possibility so immigrants are able to obtain an unmarked driver’s license,” says Pastor Aldo Siahaan, pastor at the Philadelphia Praise Center, a Mennonite Church in South Philadelphia serving Indonesians, Burmese, Vietnamese and Latino immigrants. Pastor Siahaan is one of 215 clergy who wrote open letters in support of driver’s licenses for all.

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New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia is an interfaith, multicultural immigrant justice organization. Fight for Driver’s Licenses PA is a grassroots network of immigrants organizing across Pennsylvania for driver’s licenses for undocumented Pennsylvanians.

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Immigrant led Community Organizing

Our staff manages our campaigns and programs while our members join our working committees to inform our programming, choose our campaigns, and plan our strategies to win. Through conversation and listening, our members and the community on the ground are the ones directing the organization. When people reach out to NSM, they connect with someone who speaks their language, looks like them, and is committed to empowering immigrant communities because they understand their journey and struggle. At NSM, our communities see their peers guiding our mission, creating trust, and allowing members to recognize NSM as an immigrant-led organization.
NSM works to lift the skills of the affected community and dismantle systems of oppression while promoting systems of mutual support, collective liberation, and respect for all people, which is why we provide interpretation services, respect childcare needs, schedule our sessions during times that work best for members who work multiple jobs or cannot meet in person, and allow members to inform us about their individual needs before meetings.
The community leads our work at every level to eliminate unnecessary barriers and meet the varied needs of our members.

Leadership Development

Our Leadership Development Program is a step in recruiting and training new leaders and training. The program blends the skills and experiences members bring from their home countries with NSM’s signature faith-rooted and anti-racist organizing model.

We have curricula for each level of membership, which includes workshops on the history of detention, community organizing, nonviolent protest, campaign strategy, and ongoing anti-racism training. Our programming encourages immigrant leaders to find their voice, understand the power of collective resistance, and join a community of immigrant leaders fighting for transformational systemic changes rooted in social and economic justice.

Leading this initiative is Bertha Murcia, one of NSM's Community Organizers. She is an alumna of NSM’s Promotoras de Justicia immigrant leadership program and oversees member engagement.

Build Community Power

NSM’s organizing efforts emphasize community building, inviting people to new roles, deepening Black and Brown solidarity, long-term leadership development, and impactful campaigns.

We build a base of people from our 33 congregations and Accompaniment Team and direct that people-power to fight specific campaigns. Staff members work with immigrant members to choose our campaigns, guide our strategies, lead events, and ensure our work is focused on meeting the needs of Philadelphia’s various immigrant communities.

Having a hands-on role in changing policy allows our members to gain a sense of empowerment, confidence, and self-respect. Empowering immigrants of color to organize collectively is part of NSM’s long haul work to create a people-powered movement for immigrant justice.