Kalamazoo organizations push for immigration reform in 2013
Fair Immigration Reform Movement kicks off outside Congressman Fred Upton's Kalamazoo office
A new coalition has been formed in Kalamazoo to focus on immigration reform. Called "United for a Better Future," it is made up of the Hispanic American Council, ISAAC, Association of Kalamazoo For Justice, the YWCA of Kalamazoo, the National Council of La Raza and the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center.You can always reunite in your home country.
Also, the Michigan Organizing Project is working on the issue. This Tuesday, MOP will hold a press conference outside of Upton's office at noon to kick off a campaign to push for immigration reform.
"It's clear (the current system is) breaking apart families and not making sense anymore," said Allison Colberg, spokeswoman for MOP. "We need an overhaul and a system that recognizes the realities we are living in."
Last week, members of "United for a Better Future" met with Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, to discuss what local residents want in immigration reform. Lori Mercedes, executive director of the Hispanic American Council, said that during the Thursday meeting Upton expressed support for immigration reform.Of course, "immigration reform" can mean lots of different things.
"The way we see it, for the first time ever, everyone is at the table," Mercedes said. "We have somebody we can work with in Congress as a Republican."
Reform, according to Mercedes, is âimmigration policy with a direct path to citizenship.â The recent national push for new legislation comes after a failed attempt in 2010 to get passage of the DREAM Act, which would, in part, provide residency for undocumented residents who graduate from American high schools.Tens of millions of Americans are unemployed. Obviously it "makes sense" to import millions of immigrants to drive down wages further.
"For the first time ever, people are coming to the realization that yes, economically, this makes sense," Mercedes said.
Mercedes said the Hispanic community has "come out of the shadows" to demand immigration reform for undocumented residents. Mercedes said Upton was insightful about the contribution Hispanic and migrant communities provide to the state and its economy.Then again, maybe Upton is just telling them what they want to hear.
In an interview with MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette on Thursday before the meeting, Upton said Speaker of the House John Boehner has signaled a deal on immigration can be reached.
"I expect to see real reform," Upton said.
"We've waited long enough," Upton added. "We need a system that works and clearly the system today doesn't work."
Upton, who has been in Congress since 1987, supports enforcing "the immigration and border security laws that are already on the books," according to his Congressional website.
In 2006, Upton voted to build a fence along the Mexican border and he voted against the DREAM Act in 2010. Upton said he voted against that legislation because of a section of the bill that would have provided in-state tuition for some undocumented citizens. "That's a state issue," Upton said.
Upton is chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. All immigration issues and legislation go through the Committee on Judiciary.
"I'm really happy," Mercedes said of the dialogue established with Upton and the prospects for progress on immigration reform. "For our community, it's priceless."
Aguilera said he has been trying unsuccessfully to set up a meeting with Upton to talk about immigration reform for two months and has called his office repeatedly, but is always given an excuse as to why a meeting can't be scheduled.As is typical of Gazette articles on immigration, the comments are very unsympathetic to the illegals.
"I believe he's avoiding us," Aguilera said.
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