Our Mission

VACIR is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations that exists to win dignity, power and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities.

Category Archives: Latest News

Time Is Running Out For DACA Recipients To Apply For Renewal


August 2, 2018


Jen Lawhorne, jen@progressva.org, (804) 368-4849


VIRGINIA– Young immigrants living in Virginia should not delay in applying to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status due to expected decisions from federal courts in August. More than 12,000 residents of the Commonwealth have used DACA to obtain work permits and driver’s licenses, attend school, and contribute to their families and communities. DACA recipients have made a tremendous impact on Virginia, but if conservative politicians have their way, federal courts will side with the Trump administration to shut the program down.


For Paula Alderete, a George Mason University student and a Mason DREAMer, DACA has given her many opportunities that she otherwise wouldn’t have. “If DACA is fully stripped away, it will be as though my future is being stolen,” Alderete said. “Fully terminating DACA will have larger implications that will extend to all of our communities regardless of legal status. With the current lawsuit and political climate, the undocumented community is constantly being used as a political football by political parties, ‘leaders,’ and ‘allies.’ We are  tired of having our futures decided for us by individuals who do not know who we really are.”


President Trump announced in the fall of 2017 that he was ending the DACA program. A DC federal judge ruled in April of this year that the decision to end DACA was unlawful, opening the door for DACA renewals to occur. Attorneys general from seven states led by Texas will argue in federal court next week against the constitutionality of DACA. It is assumed that the fight will go to the Supreme Court of the United States. Immigrant justice advocates believe that Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court bench, Brett Kavanaugh, will likely support the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda because of his previous rulings.


Sookyung Oh of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), a member of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights, said, “Ending DACA would be a huge mistake and makes no sense. Having DACA status has provided over 12,000 young people in Virginia an opportunity to work legally, go to college, and drive. Those two years of deferred action means two years of less worrying about detention and deportation, and more hustling to realize dreams. If you are a DACA recipient whose status will expire next year, we urge you to renew. We also urge you to join us in the streets and in the halls of Congress to fight for our communities and citizenship for all. We also urge DACA recipients to speak out for commonsense state solutions like extending driving privileges and in-state tuition to undocumented communities in Virginia.”


The Virginia Coalition of Immigrant Rights (VACIR) is urging all DACA recipients whose status is set to expire in the next year to renew their DACA by the end of the month. Resources are available for people wishing to renew their DACA from non-profit legal aid organizations, such as the Legal Aid Justice Center, and community organizations, like NAKASEC.


Virginia Immigrant Justice Advocates Call For In-State Tuition And Driving Privileges For Undocumented Virginians


January 9, 2018


Jen Lawhorne, (804) 368-4849, jen@progressva.org

Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights Announces 2018 General Assembly Legislative Agenda

RICHMOND– Members of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) state committee held a  press conference today to support proposed legislation providing in-state tuition and driving privileges to undocumented Virginians. VACIR’s state committee, a coalition comprised of 16 organizations, is calling on Virginia lawmakers to fall in line with legislators from other states who have created resources and other opportunities for undocumented residents.

“The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights exists to win dignity, power and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities. We stand committed alongside our communities today to advance these important issues so Virginia can be a more just and welcoming place to all immigrants and refugees,” said Margie del Castillo of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, one of the VACIR state committee’s member organizations.

Due to the absence of federal immigration reform, immigrant justice advocates in Virginia are looking for ways to meet some of the immigrant community’s immediate needs on a state level. VACIR is working closely with state lawmakers to introduce legislation that would improve the lives of thousands of undocumented Virginians. According to the Migration Policy Institute, nearly 272,000 undocumented immigrants live in Virginia.

Of that number, nearly 47,000 were born between 1991-2001, making them college-age. Virginia currently only allows students enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood (DACA) program to pay in-state tuition rates at Virginia colleges and universities. VACIR is working to expand the eligibility requirements for in-state tuition so that more undocumented students qualify.

VACIR state committee members are also supporting legislation that would provide driving privileges to undocumented Virginians who have obtained the necessary requirements to become licensed drivers. A 2016 report from The Commonwealth Institute found that removing barriers to obtaining driver’s licenses improves safety, boosts Virginia’s economy and betters the lives of immigrant communities.   


Trump Administration Adds 21,500 Virginians to Deportation List


Media Contact:

Monica Sarmiento, (804) 482-0722, monica@virginiaimmigrantrights.org

We are outraged that the Trump Administration has terminated the Temporary Protection Status Program for the people of El Salvador. Virginia is home to the fifth largest TPS community in the country. Most Salvadorians TPS holders have resided in Virginia for nineteen years. 21,500 Salvadorans in Virginia are TPS holders. 19,200 U.S.-born children in Virginia have Salvadoran parents who are TPS holders. Abolishing this program will separate parents from children.

The elimination the TPS program for Salvadorians will have catastrophic consequences for the Virginia economy. 18,200 workers in Virginia are Salvadoran TPS holders. An estimated $1.2 billion would be lost from state GDP annually without those workers. The hardest hit industries will be food service, construction, and administrative support. In Virginia Salvadorian TPS holders make up 24.2% food service industry, 23.5% of construction workers, and 17.6% of administrative and support and waste management services.

We urge that the Virginia Congressional delegation take a lead in a legislative solution for the TPS community. We urge that every Virginian call their member of Congress at (202) 224-3121, and tell your member of Congress that TPS recipients deserve to stay and a pathway to citizenship.







​FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Contact: Monica Sarmiento (VACIR), monica@virginiaimmigrantrights.org

The VACIR Board Chair, Leni Gonzalez, issued the following statement.

“Our community has patiently waited for the for the opportunity to have the Administration argue for expanded DACA and DAPA before the Supreme Court. The announcement that the Supreme Court will indeed hear the case is a victory. We are optimistic of having a favorable ruling in this case. There is still a great deal of work to be done, and we will continue to rally in support of the Executive Orders. We will also continue to advocate for immigrant rights, specifically a pathway to citizenship for those undocumented Virginians who deserve to be granted expanded DACA and DAPA.”


VACOLAO Chair and VACIR Vice-Chair, Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, said: “Today is an important one in the long struggle for justice and dignity for immigrant families who face the real terror of forced separation from their citizen children and lives that they have worked hard to build here. We are confident the Supreme Court will rule in our favor and finally provide relief to millions of aspiring Americans who continue to wait for reforms to our immigration system that recognize their contributions to our communities and country.”

Emily Kessel, Advocacy Director at NAKASEC, said: “Today’s news is encouraging because immigrant families will finally have their day in court. The Supreme Court’s decision to take up this important case impacts the lives of millions of hardworking immigrants by allowing them to obtain work permits and better support their families without fear of being separated from their loved ones. We have no room, in Virginia nor in this country, for mean-spirited politics keeping families from applying for the DAPA and expanded DACA programs. While waiting for the court to hear arguments on the case, NAKASEC will remain committed to lifting up the Korean American and Asian America vote at the ballot this November and fighting to make fair comprehensive immigration reform a reality for our community at large.”


VACOLAO is ready to Defend the Rights of the Latino Community During the Virginia 2016 Legislative Session

For Immediate Release: January 13, 2016
Margie Del Castillo, (571) 436-5673, margie@latinainstitute.org
Leni Gonzalez, (703) 328-2616, gonzalezleni@aol.com

*VACOLAO is a member organization of VACIR

Arlington, VA— Today, January 13, 2016 marks the first day of the Virginia General Assembly legislative session. VACOLAO’s mission is to serve as a working alliance among organizations in Virginia that serve or support the interest of the Latino communities in order to empower the community and secure equal treatment, equal opportunity and equal representation for Latinos/Hispanics in Virginia. To that end, VACOLAO will announce their legislative agenda for the 2016 session of the General Assembly, which will include issues such as: driving privileges for Virginia immigrants, Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage.

WHAT: Press conference with leaders from the Virginia Coalition for Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) where they will discuss their legislative priorities for the 2016 Virginia General Assembly session.

WHERE: Shirlington Employment and Education Center; 2701 S Nelson St, Arlington, VA 22206

WHEN: Thursday, January 14th, 12:30 p.m.

WHO: Members of the Virginia Coalition for Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) and partner organizations.


The Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) is a non-partisan coalition of individuals and non-profit organizations serving the Latino/Hispanic community in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Para Distribuirse Inmediatamente

Margie del Castillo, (571)436-5673, margie@latinainstitute.org
Leni Gonzalez, (703)328-2616, gonzalezleni@aol.com

VACOLAO se alista para defender los derechos de la comunidad Latina durante la Sesión Legislativa 2016 en El Estado de Virginia

Líderes de la Coalicion de Organizaciones Latinas de Virginia (siglas en inglés VACOLAO) se reúnen en conferencia de prensa para anunciar su agenda legislativa para la sesión del 2016.

Arlington, VA- Hoy, 13 de enero del 2016 es el primer día de la Sesión Legislativa de la Asamblea General del Estado de Virginia. La misión de VACOLAO es servir como una alianza operativa entre las organizaciones que en Virginia apoyan y sirven los intereses de las comunidades Latinas para empoderar a la comunidad y asegurarse de que reciba un trato equitativo, una representación equitativa y las mismas oportunidades para todos los . Latinos/Hispanos de Virginia. Con este propósito, VACOLAO anunciará su agenda legislativa para el 2016; en esta agenda se incluyen temas tales como el privilegio de manejar/conducir para los inmigrantes de Virginia, la expansión de Medicaid y el aumento al salario mínimo.

QUE: Conferencia de Prensa con líderes de VACOLAO en la cual se discutirá las prioridades legislativas para la sesión del 2016 de la Asamblea General del Estado de Virginia

DONDE: Las oficinas de la organización Shirlington Employment and Education Center, localizadas en el 2701 Nelson Street South, Arlington, VA 22206.

CUANDO: Jueves. 14 de enero del 2016 a las 12:30pm

QUIEN: Integrantes de VACOLAO y otras organizaciones aliadas.


La Coalición de Organizaciones Latinas de Virginia (siglas en inglés VACOLAO) es una coalición no-partidista de individuos y organizaciones sin fines de lucro que sirven a la comunidad Latina/Hispana en el Estado de Virginia.