Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Good morning, Councilmembers. My name is Mia Lia Kiernan. I'm a community organizer and co-founder of One Love Movement. We were born out of a detention and deportation crisis in the Cambodian American community here in Philadelphia two and a half years ago. Thank you for having us here today to testify about the importance of the Philadelphia City Council resolution on comprehensive immigration reform.

We first must thank you for seizing this crucial moment in political history to have the voices of Philadelphia heard in the national immigration debate. We thank you for your commitment to building strong relationships with community organizing groups, community activists, leaders, and advocates and allowing us to help shape the language of this document in partnership with you, our elected officials. We thank you for having the courage and integrity to lead our stance on CIR with the concerns and analysis we have on the ground here in Philly. Your leadership makes us proud and gives strength to our hearts in the face of oppressive immigration and deportation systems that test them every day.

We all know there's a national effort to pass CIR this year. This is why we're here in City Council today, for Philadelphia to have a voice in that initiative but also for Philadelphia to empower ourselves in national efforts that often loses the voices from the grounds. Now is the time to be clear about what CIR means for us.

As the national effort says, it is fighting for the best and the brightest. We say that's not enough. The reality is that our schools are struggling to stay open, our dropout rates are high and real, our teachers are overworked and underpaid and, therefore, legalization should be extended to young people who strive in our broken education system for GEDs, vocational training, and alternative education too.

As the national effort says it is fighting to keep families together, we say that needs to be defined in a way that includes all of our families regardless of immigration status, family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

As the national effort says it is fighting for enforcement and deportation of, quote/unquote, criminal aliens, we say that is a blanket term used to describe our young people who have become part of not just the school-to-prison pipeline but a school-to-deportation pipeline. We believe in second chances and redemption in Philadelphia.

As the national effort says it is fighting for swifter legalization of agricultural workers, we say we know deeply our country's history of exportation and division of workers, and any new worker visa program must guarantee with it fundamental rights and fairness to all workers.

We have begun our job today by challenging the national effort to see us here on the ground and challenging lawmakers to take our analysis into deep consideration. We have challenged them to acknowledge the root causes of our forced migration, such as conditions created by destructive U.S. foreign policies that have led to genocide, economic and human, and conditions of war, conflict, and economic devastation to entire nations.

With that, we also want to let you know that your courageous stance has empowered other cities to step out of the mainstream line of immigration reform as well. Through One Love's national network of allies and community groups, this resolution was sent to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who were so inspired by the language of this document that they wish to adopt it as representative of their city's stance on CIR after we do so here today.

So thank you all very much, and happy Valentine's Day.

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