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Tell Obama and Congress to Move on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Jill Garvey • Jun 24, 2009

President Obama has invited Congressional leaders to the White House tomorrow for a working session on immigration reform. In the last few weeks the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign has urged supporters to contact Congress, and the response was overwhelming. 200,000 faxes, 30,000 phone calls, and 3,300 personal notes poured into the capital.

But to move this beyond just a few high-profile meetings and turn it into workable solutions, Congress needs to continue to hear from you. I sent a personal email to my representative today:

Dear Representative,

Working as a school administrator three years ago I watched helplessly as the family of one of my students was ripped apart by the immigration system. The young boy’s mother was deported while his father, who was a legal resident, stayed behind in the US to maintain the family’s small business and ensure that he could continue to support his family.

Like a majority of immigrants to this country this young family was hard-working and law-abiding. They were active in the community and their son was a happy, all-American kid. The best option for the family was for him to go with his mother back to her native country. He left behind his home, friends, school, and father at just 5-years-old. It wasn’t just the family that was devastated, it was an entire community who had grown to love this family.

It’s un-American to deport or drive out 12,000,000 undocumented immigrants — and the status quo is unacceptable. So now is the time for you to lead. We deserve comprehensive immigration reform that gets immigrants into the legal system, holds employers accountable, strengthens the rights of all workers, reunites families, and offers solutions that move us forward together.

This week some members of Congress are going to meet with President Obama to discuss reforming our immigration system. I am glad to hear it! The current system is broken and won’t fix itself unless you choose to act. Please do everything you can to see to it that comprehensive immigration reform is addressed this year.

We all need to tell Congress and the White House in our own words why this is so important. We must continue communicating our expectation that they find workable solutions that are consistent with our values and move us forward together.

At a press briefing today, leaders from faith, business, labor, and immigration reform organizations discussed not just the need for reform, but the viability of getting it done in 2009.

Bishop Soto of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration warned that delaying immigration reform will undermine our economy and our security. Speaking on behalf of all the US Bishops working on this issue, he urged President Obama and congressional leaders to enact immigration reform.

Tamar Jacoby of ImmigrationWorks USA spoke on behalf employers who have a strong stake in legalizing workers and growing the economy. “There is a need for workers at the top and the bottom of the economy,” Jacoby said. Low-skilled and highly educated immigrants are necessary in the US and we will need a legal way for immigrants to work as our economy recovers.

Mark Lauritsen of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) said members “expect action on immigration reform and they expect action now”. Their membership want to know that they will no longer be criminalized for going to work.

Janet Murguía of National Council of La Raza (NCLR) expects this to be the first in a series of steps that will lead to a legislative debate this Fall. She said voters rejected anti-immigrant candidates this past election cycle, “the Latino community understands the painful consequences of allowing this issue to fester…lives have literally been at stake.”

Frank Sharry of America’s Voice pointed out that Senate majority leader Harry Reid is committed to passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and that he should be called upon to make this a priority on the legislative calendar. Will Republicans stand up to cooperate on this? That remains to be seen. But with changing demographics the Latino vote is increasingly vital to Republican officials. Tamar Jacoby said, “Republicans are seeing the writing on the wall.”

Lauritsen encouraged enacting real policies that positively impact hard-working immigrants, “once they come in, let’s let them be full participants in our society…that’s what makes this country great.”

Indeed it is. Write to your Representative today and tell them why you support reform.

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