NKY Supporting Our Neighbors Immigrant Rights Workshop

Posted by: Amy Copelin on November 22, 2017
Heyra and Jose lead discussion on next steps attendees can take to protect and promote immigrant rights.

Heyra Avila, an animated young woman from Florence, addressed a group of us fellow Northern Kentuckians on a Wednesday night at the end of long day. Her energy was infectious. Her story made a deep impression. She opened up about a precarious, hard-to-imagine trek that she and her family made over a decade ago between Mexico and the U.S. Her parents, wanting to give their children a more solid future, had chosen to leave their small, metal sheet roofed home not too far from the U.S. border and try their luck over here. Heyra described herself as “lucky.” The dangerous journey they made across the dessert when she was four was safer than it was for most pursuing the same route. Her family had the good fortune of finding a car, providing them with overnight shelter and preventing them from complete exposure to the desert elements or predators—likely both animal and human.

Since arriving in the U.S., Heyra and her family have made a home in Florence. In fact, it is the only home she has known since leaving Mexico. She’s an activist and a student, fighting for the long-term goal of achieving comprehensive immigration reform so that she and her parents can have solid status. She also fights for the shorter-term goals of simply maintaining current safeguards against deportation, such as the protection offered by Obama for childhood immigrants via DACA.

Heyra and her cousin José, both active members of YES, the Youth Education Society, spent much of Wednesday evening helping our group to understand exactly what life is like for the undocumented and other immigrants in our community, the types of struggles and uncertainty they face on a daily basis. One huge revelation came in the form of the Immigration Board Game, a sort of quasi-Monopoly, focusing not on real estate, but the immigrant experience. You start by choosing an immigrant character and then move that character around the board by rolling a die. The characters, each with their own unique set of circumstances and paths of entry into the US, mainly survive, but also glimpse the occasional possibility of achieving actual citizenship. Each character spends a lot of time living, experiencing life’s major milestones like marriage and childbirth, but also succumbs to the frequent pitfalls experienced by most immigrants, such as being accused of lying on their green card application or becoming the victim of a theft or violence that they don’t dare to report due to their precarious status. And, if they don’t get sent to a detention center or back to their country of origin, they might, as many immigrants do, simply keep circling the outer loop of undocumented limbo, which most characters in the game do. Our workshop participants were split into four groups. In my group, none of our characters held the coveted safe position at the center of the board. 


Throughout the remainder of our session together Heyra and Jose helped us to understand the options that have been available to help immigrants to maintain a safer status in the U.S., and the recent erosion of those options by the Trump administration. I had been familiar with the status of DACA and the Dream Act, but I had not been aware of the priority levels enacted during the Obama presidency. The priorities that his administration created assigned different levels to various types of undocumented citizens. The highest priority category grouped undocumented individuals who had committed crimes as well as children who were on their own in the country. They were considered highest priority for deportation. At the lowest priority level were those undocumented individuals who worked and went to school and were simply trying to live normal lives without the advantages of citizenship. These individuals were afforded the opportunity to keep reporting to authorities and showing up at deportation hearings. As long as they complied they could continue to stay. Now, under Trump, there is longer a system to designate deportation priority levels. Any level of comfort provided to those undocumented citizens raising families and contributing to their communities has been pulled out from underneath them.

Heyra and José inspired me. Heyra calls herself a “realist” and José describes his mindset as “day-to-day.” Yet both were empathetic and enthusiastic workshop leaders. I would have thought they would feel crushed by the weight of all the uncertainty they have to live with. Yet both were hopeful for their communities, not just family and friends, but their entire community here in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.

At the end of our workshop Heyra and José told us about the ways that they are fighting against the ever-tightening restrictions being imposed on them and other immigrants in Northern Kentucky. One key way that non-immigrants can help is to pressure legislators, churches, law enforcement, and others in the community who aren’t understanding the need for comprehensive immigration reform. We can put pressure on authorities for shorter term relief measures as well. For instance, in Cincinnati the police and community have reached an understanding whereby local undocumented immigrants who are stopped or ticketed for violations, will not be reported to ICE if they are carrying a MARCC (Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati) ID card. We can push for measures such as these to be adopted in Northern Kentucky too. They aren’t a permanent solution, obviously, but they are step towards keeping undocumented immigrants safe in Northern Kentucky.



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9 Reasons Why Kentucky Needs to Fund Public Pensions

Posted by: 9 KFTC members on November 21, 2017

We’ve built serious momentum in Kentucky around stopping Governor Bevin’s dangerous public pension bill while advancing a commonsense plan to find revenue to fund the pension and other p

Let's build grassroots power together during our fall campaign

Posted by: Meta Mendel-Reyes on November 13, 2017

Soky Member reflects on the Fund Our Pension rally in Frankfort

Posted by: Joyce Adkins on November 8, 2017

When I became a member of KFTC a few short months ago, I wanted to find ways to make a difference in our community and in our Commonwealth. I had such an opportunity when I was able to attend the Fund Our Pension Rally in Frankfort on November 1. I have been shocked and horrified by our Governor’s depiction of state workers, and especially of public school teachers, as greedy, lazy, and yes, unsophisticated. As one speaker from Vocational Rehabilitation pointed out, he saved as many sick days as he could so if he or his wife or one of his kids had an accident or a serious illness, he would have time to take off. If a worker comes to work with the sniffles or on crutches or with a cast on their arm (I have done all three) and still does their job, and then retires with a couple of months of sick time built up, they should be paid for it.  They could have stayed home and left work undone, but they didn’t.  That is their time accrued and promised to them. The Governor has tried, with some success, to drive a wedge between the private and public sectors.  What people need to know is that when I retired three months ago, the college-educated person who was hired to take my place started at $12.15 an hour.  They could have started at Target with a high school diploma for $11.00 an hour, so, believe me, we don’t work for the state out of greed. I heard one speaker talk about how state workers clear our streets, teach our kids, inspect our swimming pools, help the disabled find jobs, keep us safe, put out our fires, and on and on. No, these are not lazy people, these are people who work for little compensation to care for their fellow citizens. And unsophisticated was just another word for stupid, so I will not even stoop to answer that one. It was clear from the signs and the speeches that no one was happy with that insult.

KFTC Benefit Show in Harlan County

Posted by: KFTC Staff on November 8, 2017

Dozens turned out to a KFTC benefit show in Harlan County hosted by local music scene organizing group From The Ruins on November 3rd.

"I believe the show we had on Friday was exactly what we set out do. It was local bands that have formed in the past year, all from Harlan, and the scene of people that came out to enjoy it was better than expected. We hope to see continued growth and unity within the music scene as it comes together more," said Adam Peace, a member of From The Ruins and new KFTC member.

The show featured Brooklyn Collins, Mandela, and Swamp Rat.

Madison County chapter's 2017 Halloween Spectacular!

Posted by: Matthew Frederick on October 31, 2017

As a fall season balance to its successful spring pie auction, the Madison County chapter of KFTC held its first Halloween Spectacular. Around 80 people gathered in the basement of Union Church in Berea to celebrate the season, the Halloween holiday, and the work of the membership as well as to promote the good cheer that comes from supporting the ongoing mission of KFTC.

The cool fall evening party began as guests started entering to the enticing smells coming from the chili table. One of the main features of the evening, the chili cook-off put around a dozen slow-cookers full of homemade chilis in competition. After devouring the superb offerings, attendees were invited to vote for the winning chili by placing a few dollars in a chili’s glass donation jar, with all of the resulting proceeds benefiting KFTC and its mission.

KFTC members travel to D.C. to lobby for the RECLAIM Act

Posted by: Nikita Perumal and Jacob Mack-Boll on October 24, 2017


Hattie, Larry, Sarah, and Judge Executive Jim Ward meet with Megan Bell and Jake Johnson of Congressman Hal Rogers' Staff


This October, KFTC members Sarah Bowling, Larry Miller and Hattie Miller spent time in Washington, D.C. lobbying their congresspeople to pass the 2017 RECLAIM Act.

Larry is a retired coal miner from western Kentucky. “I worked underground for 23 years and very proud of that work,” he said.

“I believe, however, that coal will never again be Kentucky's primary economic engine. I am concerned that investments in mining operations here will eventually end. I take no pleasure in saying that, because I made a good living in coal for a long time, but it just looks like a reality to me.

4th Annual Smoketown GetDown for Democracy

Posted by: Dari’Anne Hudson on October 2, 2017

The cold and chilly weather brought by hurricanes ceased in Louisville the 4th annual Smoketown GetDown for Democracy block party. The energy of friends, neighbors, vendors, and performers were only rivaled by the clear, bright sky. Taking place at the Jefferson County Chapter headquarters of 745 Lampton Street, the block party proved to be another success.

Louisville has experienced many ups and downs of the current political climate in the nation. Widespread violent crime, threats to undocumented immigrants, continued environmental injustices, and many other issues are evidence of the uphill battle that is present. Yet, hundreds gathered in Smoketown to celebrate gains in affordable housing, community revitalization, and unified organizing efforts across various issues. The Smoketown neighborhood is no different in its successes – it has maintained a strong momentum toward creating a neighborhood where all residents thrive.

Members Host Constitutional Convention Workshops!

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on September 20, 2017

Late last year members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and allies began to notice an increased presence of organizations working to pass a call for a constitutional convention in Kentucky. We began to work closely with allies to learn more about the issue, and came out in force to help make sure that the proposed 'con con' didn't receive a vote in the last General Assembly.

KFTC is about bringing people together, building power

Posted by: Meta Mendel-Reyes on September 16, 2017

A few days after the KFTC annual meeting, I was in Frankfort to participate in a rally to ask the governor to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis from the Capitol rotunda. As in Charlottesville, Durham and other Southern communities, many Kentuckians believe that it’s time to remove symbols of slavery and the war to defend it. At the end of the rally, attendees were invited to step forward and identify their organization. As the newly elected chair, I was proud to say that Kentuckians For The Commonwealth was in support.

Georgetown residents plan second local Pride event for October 28

Posted by: KFTC staff on September 16, 2017

Scott County members and allies have continued the push for a fairness ordinance in Georgetown, and hope to build upon the success of the campaign over the past year.


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