Immigration Reform 2013 Rally in Southwest Michigan
Kalamazoo (Majyck Radio)- Jose Aguilera, MOP Statewide Board Member greeted hundreds of Kalamazoo families, community leaders, church members and families from across southwest Michigan assembled at the Hispanic American Council for a rally with the national “Family Unity” bus tour for immigration reform.
The message was clear-family unity and pathway to citizenship now. “Family Unity” buses across the country are making their way toward Washington, D.C., stopping in key congressional districts to build pressure for immigration reform in 2013 and lifting up the stories of the broken immigration system. Thirty “Family Unity” riders from Wisconsin and Illinois joined southwest Michigan MOP members for last night’s rally.
Chants of, Si Se Puede, translated, We can do it, erupted throughout the evening with claps cheers and live music provided by Iglesia Evangelica Misionera Band.
The rally focused on the need for comprehensive immigration reform this year which includes a clear pathway to citizenship. MOP members criticized Rep. Fred Upton of southwest Michigan for saying “there may not be a specific pathway to citizenship”. Speakers at the rally pointed out that lack of earned citizenship would create a permanent underclass of 11 million workers, students, and family members.
Jenn Amaya, MOP member from Grand Rapids and DREAM student shared her families ordeal dealing with immigration reform. Her mother found out that she could never re-enter the United States after returning to Mexico at the advice of an immigration lawyer to “process her papers”.
At 15 years old, Jenn was left to raise her younger brother and sister of four and six years old alone. Both children are U.S. citizens. Though Jenn made the Dean’s list her first year of college, she has not been able to continue while working and caring for her siblings.
Sergio Martinez, DREAM student and member of MOP out of Detroit along with several people from the Michigan Organizing Project (MOP), a non-profit organization shared their stories. Denis Montero arriving in the United States when he was 12 years old shared how oppressive and limited his life has been for him and his family. He is also part of the bus tour from from Voces d la Frontera, Wisconsin.
13 years ago, Ivan Gomes local business owner and MOP member came to the United States. His story re-enforced the consistant struggles immigrants are facing. “In my home country, I was a third class citizen.” Because of my race and religion, I didn’t have the opportunites to go to college or get a business license. That’s what this country is about-‘all men are created equal’. But even for me as a legal immigrant, the system is so broken that in spite of being here legally for 13 years and paying thousands of dollars in immigration fees, I have no path to citizenship.”
“Without a path to citizenship, we’re telling one million people that they are good enough to work in our fields and slaughterhouses, clean our bathrooms and hotels, pay taxes, but that they are not good enough to to ever be Americans”, said Nick Boyd, a local small business owner. “Rep. Upton’s position is actually more extreme than most other members of his own party. The leaders of Rep. Upton’s party support a pathway to citizenship: Senator Marco Rubio, Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Jeff Flake, even Speaker of the House John Boehner all support a pathway.”
Immigrants invoked the core American principles of Justice, freedom and opportunity that brought them to the U.S. and support their call to protect families and communities by fixing the broken immigration system.
“I want to know why my congressman won’t meet with us,” said MOP student organizer Wendy Medrano, whose family was torn apart by the broken immigration system for 18 years. “The congressman needs to know my family’s story and the stories of the other southwest Michigan families who are being affected by the broken system. He can’t hide from us forever”.
MOP and “Family Unity” members also announced a national mobilization for reform to Washington D.C. in April. Organizers plan to take several buses from southwest Michigan.