August 02, 2006

House Republicans Fail to Achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Leading to Unrest in America’s Small Towns

Washington, DC, -The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC), has united with Latino church and community leaders in the towns of Riverside-New Jersey and Hazleton-Pennsylvania to advocate on behalf of Latino immigrants due to the lack of action and cooperation by members of Congress. “Our worst nightmare is already happening in cities in which local officials are trying to take immigration reform matters that should be dealt with at the federal level by Congress into their own hands. Injustices are occurring in places like Riverside to those who are the most vulnerable to discrimination,” said Reverend Miguel Rivera, President of the nation’s largest Latino Christian advocacy organization.

CONLAMIC is mobilizing its grassroots network of church leaders across thirty two states to bring their voters out to the polls in November in efforts to oust those members of Congress who remain staunchly against comprehensive immigration reform. “A series of public hearings have been held in Washington and around the country by House leaders to discuss immigration reform and it’s been a waste of time and money – only an excuse to derail immigration reform talks,” says Rev. Rivera. “We are very concerned that they will do nothing despite the fact that their lack of action is tearing communities like Hazleton and Riverside apart.”

CONLAMIC has been very committed and flexible with Republic leaders with regard to immigration reform, even supporting bills that will at the very minimum provide temporary work visas to the undocumented people. These city officials are using tactics like racial profiling to create havoc in the lives of the small populations of immigrants that live in their communities – falsely claiming that these individuals they are taking jobs, breaking laws, and using public funds for schools, when in reality, there are no facts to support their claims. “City officials in Riverside and Hazleton have small populations, but have loud voices in their communities who have a great fear of what they do not understand. If they knew any better, they’d realize that immigrants (Riverside has only 2%) actually contribute to the overall economic growth and prosperity of their towns,” said Rev. Rivera.

“Officials in Riverside New Jersey didn’t seem to mind when the undocumented workers lived in very poor conditions in overcrowded trailers out by the fields that they work in without running water and electricity. However, they did mind when those workers found progress and in their search for the American dream rented apartments under better conditions within the city limits,” said Rev. Rivera.

“These injustices are affecting real human beings. We are only hopeful that the courage that President Bush is showing in his increasingly strong push for comprehensive immigration reform will make a difference among members of his own party who have until now failed to bring an effective solution that will help America’s small towns and majority of citizens who support comprehensive immigration reform,” urged Rev. Rivera. CONLAMIC leaders are meeting in Washington, D.C. on August 7th to discuss grassroots mobilization. “It’s our time to show these legislators that we are part of their constituency and we are not happy.”

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