Call for immigration reform
A group of Syracuse area organizations is joining the call for action in Washington on immigration reform. YNN's Bill Carey says the new drive comes amid complaints that the current system for is exacting too high a cost for families.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The coalition says the message to Congress is simple: A demand for something they consider long overdue.
“Reform must be comprehensive. Given the broken nature of the current system, piecemeal reform will not work,” said Michael Hungerford, CNY Coalition for Immigration Reform.
Speaker after speaker complained that the current system is doing more damage than good. They claim families, trying to survive financially, have become the major target of those enforcing the current system. Those families, they say, are being torn apart as one or more members are taken into custody to face either deportation or detention.
“This is not just wrong, it is inhumane. As a nation, we do not have the right to separate parents from their children. We do not have the right to separate families,” said Ruth Beltran of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Despite claims that the focus of border patrol and immigration agents has shifted to those with criminal backgrounds, activists say there continue to be efforts to crack down on the innocent.
And the group also claims that in their zeal to hunt for those with questionable immigration status, agents have begun to cross the line into racial profiling.
“I'm sorry, but in the United States, you should be free to go to a store or a church without being surveyed by immigration and without being stopped and asked if your immigration status is current. And the reality is, I will not be stopped going into a church or a temple or a store. But the people whose skin is black and brown will be stopped and questioned,” said Barrie Gewanter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The steps called for by the group range from an improved system to providing visas for guest workers to provision of adequate education and social services. The coalition also demands that any final plan leave a clear path to citizenship.
“A path to mere lawful residency creates a permanent underclass that, pretty much, the entire immigration reform movement finds categorically unacceptable,” said Sam Eschenbrenner, New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform.
While talks continue in Washington on a reform plan, supporters say there is cause for hope. They claim the political climate may never be better for a deal to be reached.