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Rep. Frederica Wilson held Congressional update on immigration reform

Rep. Frederica Wilson

Rep. Frederica Wilson

Rep. Frederica Wilson held Congressional update on immigration reform

By Derek Joy

Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, (Dem. Dist. 24), hosted a Congressional update on immigration reform at the Haitian Evangelical Baptist Church in North Miami.

Wilson brought in a panel of U.S. Representatives that included Luis Gutierrez, (Dem., Chicago, Ill., Dist. 4); Sheila Jackson Lee, (Dem., Houston, Tex., Dist. 18);  Yvette Clarke, (Dem., Brooklyn, N.Y., Dist. 9); and Marc Veasey, (Dem., Dallas/Ft. Worth, Tex., Dist. 33).

Florida International University Law School Professor Ediberto Roman, whose principal research interest include analyzing the construction and interpretation of constitutional law and immigration policy, moderated the forum that ended with a question and answer session.

Wilson cited her days as principal of Skyway Elementary School in Miami Gardens (near the Miami Dade – Broward County line), as a driving force behind her intense interest in immigration reform.

“When I was principal at Sky-way Elementary, the student population was one-third Black, one-third Hispanic and one-third Anglo,” said Wilson. This is very personal for me.  I know what it means to live in harmony because I had a school like that.”

“We are one of the most immigrant rich Districts in America.  I’m fighting primarily for the dreamers.  Young people who come here with their families for a better life.  This is a human issue.  It’s also an economic issue.”

Immigration reform has been a contentious issue brewing for years.

It heated up in the several years that have followed the controversial immigration reform legislation instituted in Arizona, whereby law enforcement officers are empowered to check immigration status during routine traffic stops.

“The change and discourse in immigration reform started here with undocumented immigrants,” Roman said.  “It should come as no surprise that both parties (Democrats and Re-publicans) are interested in comprehensive immigration reform. You don’t see the hate mongering that was so obvious in the past.”

Said Gutierrez:  “People look at immigration reform as a Latino issue.  It isn’t.  It’s an American issue.  Florida has a large Haitian population. We need to stop treating our Caribbean brothers and sisters as second class citizens.”

Therein lies an injustice of monumental proportions in immigration status.

Cuban immigrants enjoy the benefits granted by the “Wet foot, dry foot policy,” wherein they need only set their feet on American soil to be granted immigrant status with all the benefits of American citizens.

Conversely, Haitian immigrants are routinely denied such benefits and are routinely deported. They are forced to wage a dogged fight to gain meager benefits associated with TPS (Temporary Protected Status).

“We have a particular issue is Tex.,” Jackson Lee said.  “Our two Senators are going to fight to trigger border issues in immigration reform.  “We’re overdue for fixing the dignity of everyone.  “I’m against denigrating anyone because their last name is different.”

The immigration debate rages on despite the multitude of political obstacles and discriminatory tactics employed by members of the both political parties in Congress.

“We have to remember this country was built by, built for immigrants.  Anyone who is exploited or relegated to second citizenship means it relegates us all.  The things these folks dread the most are things they won’t live long enough to see become a reality.”

“We all have an obligation to see comprehensive immigration reform become a reality in our generation. You can’t hold back the tide of demographics.  These folks in Washington know they need us.  The last election showed they need us.”

Another key point that is often conveniently ignored when the issue of immigration reform is embraced was noted by Veasey.

“Despite all of the negative things you hear and read about immigrants, America is a better country because of immigrants,” said Veasey, the fresh-man Congressman from Dallas/Fort Worth, Tex.

“Immigrants make up over 20 percent of the workforce in Texas. One of the negative things you hear about immigrations is that immigrants don’t pay taxes.  That is false.  Immigrants paid over $1.8-billion in local and state taxes in Texas.”


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