New Rochelle – As the bipartisan Senate committee announces that their proposed immigration bill may be finalized this week, hundreds of immigrants, supporters and elected officials converged today to call for a bill that includes an accessible path to citizenship, keeps families together, raises standards for all working people and strengthens our economy.
“Now is the right time to pass commonsense immigration reform,” said John Santos, vice president and director of 32BJ SEIU in Hudson Valley. “Last year’s presidential election was a game-changer. It produced a mandate for reform with immigration as a mobilizing issue. It’s why the president is making a top priority of his second term and why Republicans are finally speaking up for broad policy change.”
María Ramírez, 32BJ member and White Plains office cleaner, also addressed the crowd gathered outside the federal courthouse, “I came from Mexico 25 years ago but I only received my green card in 2011. The current process is too long! No family deserves to live in the fear my husband and I did—fear of being caught up in a raid and leaving our children without their parents. We need immigration reform that keeps families together and has a pathway to citizenship that will eventually let us vote.”
“We ask ourselves what kind of world do we want our children to live in, and then we work together to try to make it so,” said Betsy Palmieri, executive director of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition. “I am grateful for our brothers and sisters in labor, in schools, businesses and houses of worship all over the Hudson Valley, who are working to pass strong immigration reform that will keep our families together.”
Rallies calling for commonsense immigration reform to be passed this year have taken place across the country. Tens of thousands also rallied on the West Lawn in Washington, D.C. today after thousands of people rallied across the country over the weekend to kick off the week of action. The actions come as part of a nationwide movement to keep the pressure on Congress and President Obama to act quickly on this important issue affecting 11 million people and their families.
Congressman Eliot Engel said in a statement, “Our current immigration system is broken. Immigrating to this land of opportunity needs to be a secure, legal and simple process. Entrepreneurs seeking to enter our nation and better our economy should not be deterred by inability to receive visas. Students whose talents we can use should not have to leave the country when they graduate. And families should not have to wait years to be reunited with their loved ones.”
With more than 120,000 members in nine states, including 5,000 in Hudson Valley, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.