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Immigration Reform is Children’s Wish for the Holidays

On December 9, the Women’s Refugee Commission served as a sponsor for “A Wish for the Holidays.” Now in its third year, “A Wish for the Holidays” brings the voices of children into the immigration reform conversation, and calls upon Congress to keep families together by passing fair immigration reform.

This year, more than 6,000 children pledged to write letters to Congress, asking lawmakers to grant one wish: to keep families together. Representatives of the Women’s Refugee Commission joined children from across the country in delivering these letters to key members of the House of Representatives, and helped the children share their personal stories about why immigration reform is critical for children and families.

Lucas Luis Joe Garcia“This is my third year participating in ‘A Wish for the Holidays,’ and every year I recognize more deeply the power of children’s voices to change the conversation in Washington,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Women's Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “The brave children who write letters to Congress, who share their stories of losing parents to immigration detention and their fears that they will never see their parents again, are changing the debate. They are playing a critical role in raising awareness about the need for reform that keeps families together, and they are helping to make fair immigration reform a question of when, not if.”

The Women’s Refugee Commission recognizes the power of children’s voices to bring about change. That is why we were honored to join Representative Joe Garcia (D-FL) in the House of Representatives last night for a floor statement calling attention to the story of Charlie Hoz, a young Florida boy who came to Washington this week to tell Congress about the pain he and his family have suffered since his father was deported. Charlie is just one of thousands of children whose lives are destroyed by our broken immigration system every year. As his story shows, these children cannot wait any longer for an end to immigration policies that tear families apart.

With us for the speech were some of the children who participated in the “A Wish for the Holidays” letter delivery.

Lucas Traver, a 10-year-old from Maryland, accompanied Charlie on his Congressional visits on Monday. “I wish Congress would do something to keep families together instead of tearing them apart,” said Traver. “I listened to Charlie read his letter and it makes me feel heartbroken that people have to suffer through this just because Congress won’t do their job.” Luis Castellon, another fifth grader from Maryland, said, “Congress needs to pass immigration reform so that kids can be safe. Kids need their parents.”

The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds Charlie, Lucas, Luis and all the children who submitted letters for their courage, determination and commitment to bringing about immigration reform that keeps children safe and families together. We will stand by them into 2014, and as long as the fight for fair immigration laws goes on.