Everyone is jumping up and down over the fact the House of Representative finally did something! Yeah, they passed a bill! The fact is that passing this budget is a big deal for a couple of reasons.
Passing this budget means that we will not be forced into another government shutdown. The budget funds the government for the next two years. This also means that Congress will not be jumping from crisis to crisis every three months.
Passing this budget also means that the house can actually put aside their ideologies and pass legislation is a bi-partisan way. Speaker John Boehner did something nobody expected him to, and chastised the right-wing conservative groups for trying to block this budget. The question is whether or not Speaker Boehner will continue this rebellion and start to actually pass a few bills in the house.
I know just where Boehner can start, comprehensive immigration reform. You know the bill that already passed the Senate with strong bi-partisan support, and is just waiting for the House to pass it. The Speaker has said on multiple occasions that passing immigration reform is a major part of the Republican agenda and it should be done.
Sadly the House of Representative closed up shop for the year. They went back home to their districts without even discussing immigration. Now we must wait until early January until we see if John Boehner will bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
“Our immigration system desperately needs reform. Our broken system puts significant strain on our communities. It also hurts American workers and legal immigrants, not to mention illegal immigrants, whose families live on the margins of our society,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).
That means we will have to wait about 25-30 days before the House reconvenes and a vote can be held. In those 30 days over 30,000 aspiring citizens will be deported. 30,000 families ripped apart. On average 1,100 aspiring citizens are deported every day.
To add further insult to these people who are chasing their own version of the American Dream, the Immigration Policy Center reports that immigrants are being mistreated while in US custody.
“Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody”. (Emphasis added)
If we put these figures into action that would mean that in the next 30 days while Congress is on vacation and not passing immigration reform, 3,000 immigrants will be physically abused during their deportation.
As if physically abusing immigrants already in custody is not enough, it is now being reported that over “one-third (1/3) of all immigrants taken into US custody had their belonging taken from them and not returned.” Some items may be trivial, but not all of them. “Among deportees who were carrying Mexican identification cards, 1 out of every 4 had their card taken and not returned. The taking of possessions, particularly identity documents, can have serious consequences and is an expression of how dysfunctional the deportation system is.”
The Immigration Policy Center continues:
“Our study finds that migrants processed through Operation Streamline, or held in detention for a week or longer, are most likely to have their possessions taken and not returned.”
How can this be happening? Just because they are not American citizens does not mean that the US Government can trample their rights. This is just another reason we need to pass immigration reform. We must put an end to the daily deportation of these aspiring Americans.
To bring attention to the need for real immigration reform advocates began a ‘Fast for Families’ on the National Mall. Many of the faster’s are well known in the ongoing fight for immigration reform, including Eliseo Medina. The Fast For Families includes bio’s of all of the faster’s, and this is what they said about Eliseo:
“Eliseo Medina is described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most successful labor organizers in the country” and was named one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Latino Leaders” in Poder Magazine. Medina served as the International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for 17 years (1996 – 2013)”
They began their fast with a declaration.
“What is our faith, our words and our history worth if not translated into action, sacrifice and redemption? The world has witnessed the beliefs and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez translate in courageous acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to gain justice for a community of people who were underserved and discriminated against. We now humbly attempt to follow the examples of these great teachers and the teachings of Scripture to align our own hearts with the heart of God, who desires justice for immigrants and immediate justice for the 11 million undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters within our borders. Our faith requires nothing less. Today begins our vow to abstain from sustenance.”
(Read the full Fast for Citizenship: The Moral Obligation to Pass Immigration Reform)
These brave men and women have been fasting for over 35 days now. They have received visits from many supporters including President and Mrs Obama, Rep John Lewis (D-MS), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and many more. To bring more attention to their fast, members sent multiple letters to Speaker Boehner asking him to bring the bill up for a vote.
After 30 days of surviving on nothing but water, the fasters have handed the torch over to a new group of fasters. Congressional Representatives and union leaders quickly stepped up to fast for immigration reform. Every day since, members of Congress and immigration advocates have come forward to fast on the National Mall in their place.
How many families will have to be ripped apart by deportation before Speaker John Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor of the house?
How many people will be physically abused, and have their property and identification cards stolen from them before Speaker Boehner will bring an immigration bill to the floor?
What does it take to convince the Speaker that we need immigration reform now!