GOP Continues Turning Deaf Ear to Immigrant Families
(WASHINGTON)–The House Homeland Security Committee and House Judiciary Committee held hearings today designed only to amplify Republicans’ anti-immigrant rant over President Obama’s executive action granting temporary administrative relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, families came to Capitol Hill to thank the President for his actions and vowed to continue fighting until every immigrant family is able to stay united.
“Families who once lived in fear of being detained or deported are now going to be safe from the threat of being torn from their loved ones,” said Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), the nation’s largest coalition of immigrant rights groups. “Our families will never stop coming to Capitol Hill to speak out on behalf of our communities, and will continue to call out any lawmaker who stands in the way of compassionate and humane legislation that allows families to remain together in their adopted country.”
More than 75 people from across the nation came to Capitol Hill today to make their presence known at the hearings, and to tell their stories of how administrative relief has affected them. Families from FIRM groups CASA de Maryland, the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), along with the Virginia Organizing Institute, were among those who attended the hearing today. Families briefly and peacefully interrupted the House Judiciary Committee hearing, with Maria Pena of the Virginia Organizing Institute standing to speak directly to Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who is her congressman.
“I live in your district, I am a small business owner and I have been in this country for a long time,” Maria said to Goodlatte. “My daughter was born here. Please do not separate us.”
In a news conference before the House Judiciary Committee hearing, several families and Democratic members of Congress vowed to keep fighting for all immigrant families. NYIC member Jong-Min You of Brooklyn, New York, spoke of how he came to the U.S. from South Korea when he was just one year old. He attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a BA degree in Sociology. But due to his undocumented status, he was unable to pursue a career related to his studies and has worked in a flower store, a pizzeria and currently works in a grocery store.
“I now qualify for deferred action and work authorization,” Jong-Min said. “Now I can put my degree to use and work in the field of my choice. I am so happy to be given a chance to fulfill my dreams.”
Members of the Uribe family from Maryland told of their journey from Chile 17 years ago, when Peter came to the U.S. followed a few months later by his wife, Marlene, and their infant daughter, Nathaly. The Uribe’s daughter, Stephanie, was born in the U.S. and Nathaly was eligible for deferred action in 2012. Under administrative relief, the entire family can remain in the U.S.
“We are so grateful to President Obama for keeping families close to his heart,” Peter Uribe said. “Our children are no longer afraid their mom and dad will be taken from them.”
Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, testified before the House Judiciary Committee and spoke about Jong-Min as well as CHIRLA family Lupita, Marisol and Isabel Rojas. Last summer, Lupita had asked Hincapie to help her deliver a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. In the letter, Lupita asked Boehner to grant her a birthday wish and schedule a vote on immigration reform legislation that would allow her parents to earn citizenship. Lupita and her sister, Marisol, are U.S. citizens.
Under administrative relief, Isabel, Lupita and Marisol’s mother, will be allowed to remain in the U.S. with her children.
“Every daughter needs her mother and our nation’s laws should help support strong families rather than rip them apart,” Hincapie said.