Among cheers of “Sí se puede!” and “Time is now!” hundreds packed into the Church of the Reformation for a National Town Hall meeting on Capitol Hill. Their calls were clear – we can’t wait, we need comprehensive immigration reform now.
Farmworkers certainly can’t wait. Last year a pregnant teenager, María Isabel Vásquez Jiménez, died after working in a California vineyard in blistering heat without access to water or shade. Her’s is just one of many deaths due to inadequate protections for undocumented workers. How many more farmworkers will die in the fields before our system is reformed?
Janet Murguia of NCLR said, “We need to see the change that was promised,”
Immigrants serving in the military can’t wait. Sen. Bob Menendez said, “Their contributions to America are undeniable,” He spoke of the immigrants serving in the US armed services, the immigrants who have died in Iraq, never having the opportunity to become citizens. The immigrants who pick the food we put on our tables every day, care for our parents and grandparents when they can no longer care for themselves. They fill the jobs in hotels and meat-packing plants that keep our economy from collapse. They deserve the opportunity to work legally.
America’s youth can’t wait. Young immigrants and refugees from Mexico, Korea, Laos, and Central America told of their struggles for education, citizenship, and dignity. Their lives are deeply impacted by a broken immigration system.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said 80,000 faxes were sent to Congress in the last 24 hours, and freshman representatives from swing districts are willing to put their seats on the line for comprehensive immigration reform. Let’s hope many more members of congress are willing to go out on a limb for the millions of people suffering in limbo.
As the event came to a close, attendees left with a prayer – ready to fill the halls of congress to urge their representatives to support workable immigration reform.