Marchers Demand That Congress Reform Unfair Immigration Laws

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EL PASO, Texas – Now that the historic health care reform bill has been pushed through Capitol Hill, hundreds of thousands of immigration reform supporters expect to see their comprehensive plan in the congressional forefront this year.

“It’s been needed. It’s been needed for a while now,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of Border Network for Human Rights, who organized a march in El Paso, Texas. “We have people being separated. We have people being deported. These are not criminals. These are workers.”

Families made a good part of the participants in the march for immigration reform. (Justin Monarez/Borderzine.com)

Families made a good part of the participants in the march for immigration reform. (Justin Monarez/Borderzine.com)

Demonstrators are pressuring government officials to make immigration reform a reality by lobbying, rallying and marching. Immigration advocates say President Obama has not fulfilled his campaign promise of dealing with immigration in his the first year of his presidency.

“We had a lot of expectations when we have the new president, Obama, and the new congress, and too be honest, not much has changed,” Garcia said.

On April 10, more than 1,000 supporters assembled at the University of Texas at El Paso. The rowdy gathering, with participants of all ages and from both sides of the border, marched through Central El Paso and El Paso’s Segundo Barrio neighborhood, chanting “Obama eschucha estamos en la lucha,” drawing attention from home and business owners in the area.

“It’s important that we bring attention to the fact that we need immigration reform. It’s way overdue,” said Enriqueta Fierro, president of League of United Latin American Citizens council 335.

The procession wrapped around the corner of El Paso and 6th street, in front of the congested Paso Del Norte International port of entry bridge, before heading back toward the university campus.

“We’re on the border and we have so many people who have crossed, who have stayed, who are undocumented. They need to find a life,” Fierro said. “They do contribute to our economy.”

Marches have taken place in many cities across the country in the last decade as the topic resonates louder. Large-groups in New York and Chicago also marched April 10. About 10,000 in Los Angeles rallied a week before those.

The demonstrations emphasize how families are separated and the country is hurt economically and socially under the current system.

“This country as a whole has benefited greatly. If we were to have, truly, a work stoppage where everybody who’s not legal would not work, this country would be crippled,” said UTEP lecturer Elsa Duarte-Noboa.

Participants came from El Paso and surrounding areas such as Anthony, N.M. (Justin Monarez/Borderzine.com)

Participants came from El Paso and surrounding areas such as Anthony, N.M. (Justin Monarez/Borderzine.com)

Julio Noboa, coordinator of the Multicultural Alliance of Social Studies Advocates, said undocumented people are vulnerable in the community. They are susceptible to abuse from employers, authorities and other figures.

“A criminal has more rights than an undocumented person does,” Noboa said.

Most importantly, Garcia said legalizing current and future immigrants, stopping raids and deportation, and increasing the amount of working visas available.

“People are coming through ports of entry with no regulation, they’re coming as they say illegally because they don’t have any other options, but we need them. We need those workers,” Garcia said.

John Justice, who attended the El Paso march, said the amount of visas dispersed does not match the total needed to sustain the economy.

“The country is not thinking along the right lines. What we need to be doing is we need to be welcoming immigrants to the country,” Justice said.

Justice said immigrants are important because many baby boomers will be retiring and collecting their investments in the next few years. Immigrants will not only help fill jobs but also feed into the economy.

“We have to continue to grow and because there are so many baby boomers about to retire that are pulling money out for social security and things like that, we need people that are paying taxes to go back into the system,” Justice said.

Justice, who works as an At Risk Coordinator at Bowie High School, a school that sits less than a mile away from the border in El Paso, Texas said immigration is also important to education.

“I see kids dropping out of school because they have a social security card so they can go to work. Their parents can’t work and the parents are at home, and the kids are out of school,” Justice said. “That’s not helping the kids to progress and to do well because they’re the only ones that can get a job.”

Fierro said any overhaul of the immigration system would be acceptable to her. She said a change is needed.

“We just have to do something,” Fierro said. “Something has to be done, and we need to start.”

Obama promised to work on the issue in 2009 but because of health care reform’s long delay in Congress, immigration has waited.

“Although we know that he’s been very busy with other issues, we want to remind him that this is crucial for our nation, “ Duarte-Noboa said.

Advocates are calling for Congress to introduce a bill at the end of April. However, immigration reform may be overshadowed again, in 2010, by financial reform and energy policy debates and midterm elections.

A comprehensive plan, which most advocates said should include a pathway to legalization for undocumented people, may be overwhelmingly resisted. Homeland security is also a large part of the resistance.

“There is an easy way of distinguishing who’s a worker, who wants to come here to survive and work and contribute to our economy, and who is a criminal,” Noboa said.

Immigration could be as heated as the health care debate, but it will have to be taken up by Congress first.

Marchers walk down Oregon St. towards downtown El Paso. (Justin Monarez/Borderzine.com)

Marchers walk down Oregon St. towards downtown El Paso. (Justin Monarez/Borderzine.com)

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11 Comments

  1. David Nichols on

    The Lack of Responsible Immigration Reform in 2007, has Crashed America’s Economy, however “Far Worse”, it has caused Persecutiion of millions of good Hard Working “Humans”, including many thousands of “Legal Citizen Children”!

    January 2008 = Start of the E-verify Law, and the I.C.E. Deportation/Incarceration Programs.

    January 2008 = Start of the “Worst Reccession in U.S. History”.

    This is No Co-Incidence!

    All States that Deported or Starved away their Hard Working “Human” Tax Base, as counted for nearly 25 years as “Citizenbs by the U.S. Census Bureau, are now in Total Economic Disaster, they are having to Reduce Government Services to match their now smaller Tax Bases, and the now vacated Dwellings have left area’s overbuilt completly halting both Const. and Growth, costing Millions of Americans their Jobs!

    Besides all of these adverse Domino like Effects, our Economy is dying with out the Good Hard Labor of these Immigrants!

    To these Good Hard working Christian People I say thank you, you are the foundation of all other American Jobs!
    Thank you for your Devoted HARD LABOR!

    A wise 1840’s French Historian said: “America is great because it is good, when it ceases to be good it ceases to be great”.

    Deporting Good Hard Working “Humans”, away from thier “Citizen Children, and Secretly Incarcerating Women and their small Children in small jail cells with out windows Indefinitly, can not be considered as “Good” in any Country in ;the World!

    I believe the I.C.E. Deportaions and Incarcerations to be Americas Darkest Hour!

    No Immigration Reform in 2010?

    No Economic Recovery in America this Decade?

    To: Good and Brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

  2. The guy is carrying a sign that reads “Reforma Migratoria Ahora!”

    These clueless protesters can’t even be bothered to write their signs in English and they wonder why the country doesn’t support them?

  3. After I read David’s comment I am somewhat puzzled. He is talking about illegal immigrants and paying taxes? My understanding is that they do not have a social security number which is the base for paying taxes. The cheap labor is not supporting the USA but Mexico since many of them send the money home to their families. The economic crisis was not caused by deporting people illegally entering the USA but by stealing and cheating corporations. I am an immigrant myself and went through all the paperwork, interviews and medical exams to legally enter the USA. What about us who went through all that? BTW David entering the USA illegal is a crime and that would make them criminals in my mind.
    Seb I had the same thought as you, seeing the sign written in spanish. If you want to live here, enter the State legal and most important try to learn the language. I can not expect the citizen of the USA to understand my native language like people coming from across the border.

  4. Stupid Illegals on

    How stupid of illegal law breakers to march with signs written and people shouting in Spanish. Uh hello??? We are in America and speak and read ENGLISH! Then the illegals wonder why Americans are sick of them. Here are people willfully violating our laws who have the nerve to march and DEMAND things. Where was ICE during the rallies? They could have gotten so many at once. Deport those who will not abide by our laws. Amnesty = NEVER AGAIN

  5. To Dan They using TIN number to pay taxes (F.Y.I.) I believe this people were being pushed deeper to the underground (mexicans,asians,africans,Irish etc.)there should be a way for this people to be legalize this are hard working people with U.S. born babies with them (one anti-immigrant republican used to call it “anchor babies”). Whether you like it or not this people are contributors big or small on U.S. economy. The immigration system should be reform so that this people can go through there paperwork , interviews and medical exam just like this bigot immigrant is saying above.

  6. Gregory Gordon
    Gregory Gordon on

    How stupid of them to flee their homelands after being exploited by imperialist legislation like NAFTA. How stupid of them for coming over here to improve their lives and hopefully the lives of their children through better paying jobs and a better shot at education. How stupid of them for becoming refugees after the effects of a 30 year failed drug war. If you were in their shoes wouldn’t you break the law? Just because they were born across the border doesn’t mean they aren’t humans with the same rights as us. Most of the “illegals” don’t have the resources to apply the for residency or a visa the legal way. So should they stay, suffer, and risk death while they wait for approval to come over legally? Would you?

  7. To Halo and Gregory, I assume you both are having a job. When I came into the US I started to apply for jobs. I wrote hundreds of applications and 95% of those required to be bilingual spanish and english. I am bilingual just in the wrong language, is this fair to people like me. Both of you speak about fairness but doing so you are being unfair to others. If you enter any other country illegally you are considered a criminal, it is against the law and should be applied to everyone. I can not go in a store and steal food because I don’t have a job and can’t feed my family? I break the law, no matter what the circumstances are. Why are they standing up with signs here in the US, why don’t they do it in there home-state? If they want to stay here, go and apply for that visa or the residency. The price is not that high, but you need to speak english in order to attend the class room sessions that come with that application.

  8. Gregory Gordon

    Dan,
    And how do you learn English if you don’t have the money or time? Not everyone has the resources or time to do so. Besides that, historically people were free to come and go across the border as they pleased. The border patrol and the term illegal immigrant are relatively new phenomenons. The illegal immigrant was the scape goat of a political campaign.

  9. Kaylene Sutton

    First off, Greg, I picked up a lot of spanish just from living near the border. I’m fairly certain that an illegal would be able to pick up English the same way. That is, if they wanted to. You don’t have to have money to learn a new language.

    Less than two percent of illegal immigrants work in the fields. Most of them have jobs that would be legitimate for legal americans. Like working at Wal-Mart.

    I’ve known legal Americans who took jobs in the field because it was their only choice. Are they still only taking jobs that Americans won’t do?

    America has a limit as to how many people can come from other countries (Keep in mind, there’s a reason for this). There are so many people trying come from south of the border that it would actually be faster for them to apply for citizenship in some random other country and then apply for citizenship in America.

    My husband works in a detention center for ICE. Every single person in that facility has commited a crime in this country other than being illegal. America cannot detain anybody just for being illegal. The only reason they can be detained is if they need a plane to send them back to their country, which has to be arranged in within a short amount of time after they’ve been caught. Women and children are not incarcerated unless they’ve commited another crime.

    Go look up the border laws for other countries and then try to tell me that America is being unfair or too strict. America doesn’t shoot people on the way in. The only reason that people say it’s “unfair” or “too strict” is because they want to come here and we haven’t exactly rolled out the welcome mat.

    America has granted amnesty SEVEN times. Two of which were specifically for Haitians, the rest were for hispanics. Obviously, it hasn’t helped. Personally, I think amnesty would piss off the people that got their citizenship legally.

    If those people were being persecuted in their country (Greg) America would give them asylum.

    When I asked an illegal immigrant about paying taxes, he admitted to me (without shame) that he and others that he knows use other people’s Social Security numbers. What’s more important, paying taxes or identity fraud?

    During tax season, I was trying to find a cheap place to have my taxes done. A coworker (person A) of mine told me about a lady (person B) that did her taxes. Person B had told Person A that she got more money back by finding someone to say that they babysat for her. Person B found such a person so that Person A could use it as a tax write-off. Problem is, Person C is an illegal immigrant and wanted to “look legal” so that she could get financial aid. I’m a student in California, I got my financial aid taken away because of the governor’s educational budget cuts. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want an illegal taking money away from hard working legitimate college students.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for people coming to this country for a better life. But I don’t think it should come at a cost to the people who are already here.

  10. well i personally think that the reason for all the financial cut backs is not because of illegal immagrants being here working to make a better life but because we spend twice as much money trying to get them out instead of them paying a fine and applying to live here. anyone knows that a immigrant will spend any amount of money to stay here and have a better life for their kids. who are we to deny them a chance to live comfortably. we have a lot of american citizens in prison living off the system not wanting to do anything but kill,steal,and whatever else it is that they do but because they are american its ok. wrong the reason that illegals work under other names is because they cant use their own i think if given a chance they would be just as productive if not more than some americans. most illegals do what they do to survive. put yourself in their shoes would you not do the same?

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