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: Press Releases

Governor Northam Must Resign for the Good Of Virginia


Friday, February 1, 2019

Contact: Monica Sarmiento, press@vacir.org, (804) 482-0722

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights supports the leadership of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus in calling on Governor Ralph Northam to resign. Virginia’s ugly and painful history of bigotry and racism and the continued structural barriers facing communities of color must be rooted out everywhere they are found. In order for this work of truth, transformation, and healing to move forward, Governor Northam must resign. We look forward to working with future Governor Justin Fairfax and Virginia’s legislative leadership on building a commonwealth with opportunity, justice, and dignity for all.


Trump Regulation Would Rig the US Immigration System for the Wealthy


October 10, 2018

Media Contact: monica@virginiaimmigrantrights.org

The Trump Administration has proposed regulation that would dramatically broaden the “public charge” test that has been a part of federal immigration law for decades. These proposed changes would drastically reduce access to green cards and various types of visas for immigrants. These proposed changes put money ahead of family and threatens to worsen hunger, poverty, and unmet health and housing needs.

“Changes to the public charge test will also negatively affect family unity. Exclusionary provisions, such as favoring wealthier immigrants, individuals who are able-bodied and of employable age, are a regulatory backdoor approach to separate families. This is a particular concern for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities because 31% of the 1.1 million getting green cards each year are from Asia and Pacific Island nations. Forty percent of family-based immigrants are from Asia & Pacific Island nations,” says Sookyung Oh, D.C. Director of NAKASEC and Federal Committee Chair of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR)

“This rule change will impact the health and well-being of millions of legal immigrants and their families including US citizen children,” said Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO).  “If this rule is adopted, we would force immigrant parents into a situation of choosing between feeding and providing health care for their families or preserving the ability to change to a more permanent status at some point in the future.”

“It is the neediest in our community who will be affected. Immigrants will not apply for public benefits like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Medicaid. These programs provide basic necessities for families. Without these programs, immigrant’s families will go hungry, go without basic medical care, and endure hardships that unnecessary. This is a reckless decision on behalf of the Trump Administration.” Says Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director for the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

The rule is open to public comment from October 10, 2018, to December 10, 2018. VACIR encourages all of the member organizations and Virginia residents to submit a comment in opposition to this proposal. We will update this page with additional information to help you write and submit a comment.




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.