2014 was a blur! It went by so fast, propelling us well into 2015. HOLA just wrapped up a weekend of leadership training, team building and strategic planning, so it’s a good time to put on the breaks for a minute and update everyone. It’s difficult to summarize all of HOLA’s accomplishments in a blog post. We mapped out a timeline of 2014 during our training and it was packed with actions and successes. We closed out 2014 stronger than ever. We are so grateful to HOLA’s supporters for all they do. We concluded last year with holiday parties at each HOLA chapter–an opportunity for all of us to sit down for a dinner together, share in some fun, and wrap up an amazing year. The people are what make HOLA strong: their ideas and their drive to create a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. Despite many barriers that at times seem insurmountable, week after week HOLA meetings continue to grow and serve as the place where people learn, connect, strategize and take a stand on the issues that matter.
The number one issue HOLA contended with in 2014 was stopping the detentions and deportations of immigrant parents and young people. Like a roulette wheel, we never knew who was going to be next to get ensnared in the broken immigration system. We fought and won many battles against this harsh system that destroyed hardworking families and gripped our communities in constant fear. Thanks to the activism of HOLA, well over 100 Latino children in northeast Ohio maintained the bond with their parents who were facing imminent deportation. These children now have a critical foundation for their future success in education, health and overall well-being.
HOLA’s groundbreaking immigration work has received wide-spread national media attention, including front page articles in the LA Times, Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, Telemundo, The Plain Dealer, News Herald, and a feature in ELLE Magazine. (There are links on our media section). HOLA’s work also garnered recognition in the form of several awards in 2014. Most importantly, our advocacy was part of the growing movement that led President Obama to offer long overdue deportation relief to immigrant families. The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, announced on Nov. 21, 2014, is a direct result of HOLA’s work. We will be working to ensure that families take full advantage of this temporary relief. HOLA has begun hosting teach-ins at our chapters with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Nevertheless, it’s becoming clear that the program is no substitute for real immigration reform—only Congress can do that.
To that end, our four chapters in Painesville, Lorain, Akron and Norwalk are continuing to produce emerging community leaders who are being empowered to fight for immigration reform and for improvement in their own lives, learning both their rights and responsibilities and becoming fully integrated participants in our society in the process. We are ready for 2015!