PITTSBURGH– A coalition of religious and community groups got more than they bargained for Thursday when they presented a half cake to Rep. Tim Murphy at his Mt. Lebanon office. Instead of being met by Congressman Murphy or a staff person willing to listen to their concerns on immigration reform, the activists soon found themselves surrounded by police.
“We have been trying for months to get a meeting with Congressman Murphy to find out where he stands on immigration reform with a path to citizenship,” said Scilla Wahrhaftig of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network. “We showed up to deliver a cake but Rep. Murphy’s staff called the police and they escorted us out. Congressman Murphy has been avoiding making his stance on immigration reform known and now he is avoiding his constituents.”
The half cake delivery, organized by the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN), American Friends Service Committee PA, One Pittsburgh and 32BJ SEIU, was meant to dramatize the fact that in spite of the DREAM Act being passed by Executive Order many immigrants are still unable to get a path to citizenship. Advocates across the nation are stressing that the job of immigration reform remains only half finished.
Jeannette Patsakis from the Unitarian Universalist Church of the South Hills brought her six year-old grand-daughter with her to Rep. Murphy’s office for what she hoped would be an inspiring civics lesson. Dismayed by being removed from the building her granddaughter remarked, “Why did they kick us out? Why would they bring police with guns- all I had with me was my slinky.”
Similar events took place Thursday at Rep. Keith Rothfus and Rep. Mike Doyle’s offices where activists received a very different reception.
“Congressman Rothfus’ staffers welcomed us and we were able to convey our concerns for fair immigration reform. When Rep. Rothfus returns to Washington, we will be praying that he does what’s right and supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship,” said Sister Janice Vanderneck of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Rep. Mike Doyle met with the group himself and stated his commitment to bringing the Senate bill to the House.
Immigration advocates nationwide are urging that Congress pass the Senate version of an immigration reform bill (S. 744, sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY). They believe that the bill will unite new citizen DREAMers with their families who are still facing the threat of deportation.
The Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation that included a pathway to citizenship earlier this summer on a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32. Five immigration bills have passed through House committees this year. House leaders, however, have been unwilling to bring any of these bills to the floor for a vote. No bills have been introduced in the House that would provide a pathway to citizenship.
“Half Birthday Cake” events took place on August 14 in 14 congressional district offices across the nation.