For years, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) has used thedatabank’s Advocacy Software to influence key decision makers on important immigration issues. Recently, their efforts took a more personal direction when they learned the story of Rigo Padilla.

Rigo, a college student from Chicago, came to the US from Mexico with his mother and 2 sisters when he was 6 years old to reunite with his father. After learning that he was undocumented as a teenager, Rigo vowed to work hard in school and become a valuable member of society. He is currently a straight-A college student and dedicated volunteer. Unfortunately, last winter, Rigo was arrested for drunk driving and was ordered to be sent back to Mexico immediately.

ICIRR learned that many people involved with their organization and their member organizations had connections to Rigo. Everyone was shocked that such a great, hard-working young man could lose everything he had in the US in an instant and be forced to return to Mexico where he knew no one. So, they decided to rally on his behalf.

ICIRR used their Databank as the vehicle for this endeavor by emailing Rigo’s supporters and asking them to use the “Tell-A-Friend” feature to encourage others to join the cause. Supporters set up laptops around their college campuses and recruited countless fellow students to send faxes to their legislators in support of Rigo.

Students simply entered their home address and the advocacy software matched them with their representative(s), to whom they could send a fax with one click. Though online advocacy can sometimes feel impersonal, the students appreciated seeing a photo of the person they were contacting right on the screen.

Through The Databank’s advocacy software, over 18,000 personalized messages in support of Rigo were sent to legislators including Roland Burris, Richard Durbin, and Janet Napolitano.

“The Databank was helpful in easily allowing students to send faxes and tracking the number of contacts made to each of the targets. The reporting of number of faxes sent was a strong motivational factor throughout the campaign,” – Nathan Ryan, E-Advocacy, Web, and Tech Manager at ICIRR.

This past December, ICIRR learned that the Obama Administration decided to defer Rigo’s deportation for one year. Although the fight is far from over, this gives Rigo and his supporters more time to fight against this un-fair deportation. Rigo plans to stay active with ICIRR to fight for immigration reform for the millions of people like him.

Shortly after Rigo’s deportation was deferred, Rep. Luis Gutierrez introduced Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP) to the House, which provides a path for undocumented immigrants to earn their legal status. The clock is ticking in the effort to get this immigration reform passed; not only for Rigo, but for others in his shoes.

For the latest information, visit the ICIRR website.

Update: On May 7th, 2010, this campaign was awarded two prizes for excellence in communications by the Publicity Club of Chicago. The first was a “Silver Trumpet” in the Issues Management Area. The other was the “Quality of Life Award.” which is a prestigious Signature Award. Congrats, ICIRR on your hard work!

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