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Immigration advocates call on Michigan Senators to pursue citizenship

Parliamentarian considering other paths for undocumented immigrants

Immigration advocates across the state called for Michigan’s Senators to make sure a path to citizenship is part of the pending reconciliation bill In an online press conference Tuesday. The Senate Parliamentarian ruled last week that the original citizenship provision couldn’t be part of the proposed legislation. But there are a variety of other approaches that could be used to provide justice for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States and leaders from the Michigan People’s Campaign have joined the chorus calling on Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters to pursue any means available to accomplish this goal as a vote on the final bill is expected this week.

Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford Esq., a civil rights attorney and founder of Political Theology Matters says we are closer to comprehensive immigration reform than we’ve been in 30 years. “If we say the US is the land of opportunity, then we need to act like it,” said Ledford. “We need to embrace those who work so hard to our benefit.” She cited a number of other ways the Senate could offer Green Cards such as allowing employers or family members to petition for one or changing the registry date so that someone who’d been living here for more than a decade could apply.

Doing so could prevent that pain that was inflicted on the Garcia family. Cindy Garcia said that after nine years of legal wrangling, they had no choice but to comply with the order of removal and watch her husband, Jorge get on a plane bound for Mexico. With the help of representatives Dingell and Conyers, as well as the advocacy of groups like Michigan United and UAW, the family was reunited 2 years later, but the experience left them with lasting emotional scars. “Many families should not be affected,” Cindy said. “We should be able to fix our status here in the US.”

But being in the US but not being able to fix one’s status has problems of its own according to Guadalupe Perales, United Farm Workers Foundation. She says it’s why farm workers are uniquely vulnerable to extremely hazardous work conditions, abuse and retaliation. “Many workers struggle with the irony of the essential worker designation,” said Perales. “Wondering how they could be essential yet subject to deportation?”

Immigration attorney Richard Kessler says he’s tired of telling clients there’s no legal remedy that can keep mixed status families together, even when the immigrant has been living and working here without incident for decades. He says 1986 was the last time we saw significant reform and the time has come again. “The only thing that everyone agrees on, Republican and Democrat, is that we have a broken system.”

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