On February 12 & 13, staff and members of Causa Justa :: Just Cause and allies from around the country are headed to Washington DC to call attention to the need for a real and fair plan for immigration reform. Four people representing CJJC include two staff members and two member leaders: Mai-stella Khantouche and Maria Hernandez.
“I’m not going on a sightseeing tour, I’m going on a mission to convince legislators that immigration reform is just and that we have fought for it through tears, work, and countless acts of humiliation,” says Maria Hernandez, CJJC member leader. Maria came to the US in the 80s from El Salvador to escape the civil war. “It’s painful to be oppressed in your own country and then come here and suffer from more oppression.”
In Washington DC next week, she’ll be one of many workers and members of the national alliance Right to the City, and other coalitions, who will attend the first Senate hearing on immigration, meet with officials, and announce their principles for reform.
The President’s speech on immigration recently in Las Vegas – while promising crucial reforms - also continues the separation of families; increases border and workplace enforcement; and contributes to the criminalization of immigrants and more deaths at the border. It mirrors the blueprint shared by the Gang of 8. We fear that the “clear path” to citizenship will be more like an obstacle course.
Maria Hernandez spoke of the draconian laws that keep immigrants waiting for years to get their documents and hundreds of thousands more without any hope of getting papers that force them into the shadows for fear of deportation. “We lose our families. Many of us do not see them for years. And when they are dying, we can’t even give them a final embrace. It hurts and is very unjust that because we don’t have correct documents we cannot see our relatives, and they die without us.”
She pointed to the money being made on the backs of immigrants and the tracking devices slapped on the ankles of men and women. “The corporations have political and economic control. They want slaves to maintain the feeling that they are powerful politically and economically. When I see the women come in in chains (in immigration court) it shatters my heart. And, how much do each of those tracking bracelets cost? Can you imagine? Pursuing immigrants are making big money for the corporations.”
The workers, many of whom themselves are in deportation proceedings, will learn from the recent experience of stopping the separation of Edi Armah from his family in Phoenix, Arizona. They will exchange experience in statewide efforts to improve public safety by limiting the collaboration between local police and federal immigration enforcement and they will push for inclusive immigration reform that advances rights at the workplace instead of undermines them.
For the last three years immigrant communities from around the country have pushed for an end to “Secure Communities” while for decades have called for an end to enforcement programs that only separate families and add to civil and human rights violations against immigrants.
The workers and members of national coalitions will make sure all these points are made during their time in the Capitol.
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