Nashua Locals Hold “A Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming”

This week, I had the privilege of helping to organize and attend a great event in Nashua. The vigil was to show support for all of the refugees and immigrants coming to New Hampshire and many of our southern states.

Over the past few months, a group led by Jerry Delemus and the “912 project” have been traveling around our state, opposing immigration reform and using the thousands of child refugees as a backdrop to promote their hate-filled agenda.

After seeing their gathering on the Exit 6 overpass on one Saturday afternoon, I was personally outraged. Yes, there is a lot of political controversy surrounding the unaccompanied minors at the US border. But these children are not coming to America as immigrants – they are surrendering themselves to US Border agents as refugees from war torn countries, where oppressive governments and gangs are literally murdering children in the streets.

The sad fact is that some of these children are killed within a week of being deported back to their home country.

I connected with Representative Sylvia Gale (Nashua Ward 1) who gathered a group of immigration advocates to organize an event to show that real Granite Staters are not bigots using children for political purposes – but that, instead, we are a truly welcoming community.

 

The Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

Vigil 8

At the vigil, guests were asked to leave their own message on the sign.

“Bring us your tired…Your poor…Your huddled masses yearning to be free”
— Emma Lazarus

These are the immortal words inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. For many immigrants, like my great-grandparents, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes that America is truly a welcoming country.   No matter where you come from, or why you chose to come here, the United States welcomes you to seek your own version of the American Dream.

Around 50-60 people gathered on the steps of Nashua’s City Hall, directly under the ever-waving State of New Hampshire flag, to let the people of Nashua’s bustling downtown area know that we are tolerant and welcoming.

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

The plaza was filled with a variety of people including labor leaders, immigration activists, and elected representatives. Dozens of people came with their own hand-made signs with phases like, “No human is illegal” and “Immigration rights are civil rights”.

The vigil was opened with a prayer from Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church.   She talked about how “God made us all in his own image” and that we are all humans.

Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep. Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale gave a wonderful speech explaining why we need to show that New Hampshire and the United States are open and welcoming.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation.”

(Rep Gale’s full speech is included below)

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo of the Immigrant and Refugees Coalition and Janeth Orozco of Welcoming NH spoke about how we need to change the political messaging surrounding immigrants and refugees. Castillo said, “We are all human” and that “We should be open and welcoming of people and their cultures that have shaped our nation”.

Ray Ealey, a member of the New Fellowship Baptist Church, led the group in a rousing version of “We Shall Overcome.” All of the attendees gathered in a circle, held hands and sang out.

Rev. Tom Woodward gave the closing prayer and “Call to Action.”

While our elected leaders fight to overcome the gridlock in Washington D.C to pass meaningful immigration reform, we want everyone to know – despite what others may say – New Hampshire is a tolerant, welcoming community.

The differences in all of us are what make America the great nation it is today.

And New Hampshire has always welcomed people – no matter what color, what language, what religion, what circumstances – to come here and “Live Free.”

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Full Speech by Rep. Sylvia Gale

Thank you all for joining us this evening.   This event was conceived and came about as a result of the thoughts and actions of many of us who are gathered here, along with many others who are unable to join us.

We have been distressed and dismayed with the news of what has been happening at our nation’s southern most borders…..that of more than 60,000 children, many of them unaccompanied by any legal parent or guardian, making the dangerous and overwhelmingly difficult journey to find safety and comfort which can no longer be assured in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

These children, some as young as 4 or 6, are literally fleeing for their lives and have been sent by their families with the last desperate hope of being reunited with other family members who may already be somewhere in the United States.   They and their families know that there is no guarantee that they will be able to stay here, but yet they come, fleeing for their very lives. 

No longer, as in the past, are they only fleeing to escape the devastating poverty in their home countries, but now they come seeking protection and safety from the unimaginable violence in their homes and schools, with murder rates raging out of control due to the seemingly unstoppable drug cartels that appear to have exerted their rampant violence into every aspect of civic and community existence in those countries. 

And, as news of this flood of young and desperate refugees has spread across this great nation, we have been further alarmed and dismayed by the reactions of some of our fellow countrymen and women who have raised signs and slogans steeped in racism and bigotry and have loudly shouted, “Not Welcome Here……GO HOME…..

We are here tonight to lend our voices, our messages, and our commitment to carry on a dialogue for PEACE through Understanding which needs to once again become loud enough so that all members of our community can hear it.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation. 

We will drown out the voices of those who cling to hatred and bigotry, and we will continue to work…together…to achieve Peace through Understanding.

In order to honor all who have come before us, and all of those who have lost their lives struggling to find safety and freedom, we will now hold a time of silence for reflection, and to strengthen our resolve to do all that we can to exert our collective influence upon local, state, and national leaders to address the needs of not only these children, but of all of this nation’s newest arrivals……

(Moment of silence) 

To borrow from the poetic words of Emma Lazarus that are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, we say: “Give US your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free…..Here they should find safety and comfort, and be Welcomed…..

 

Congresswoman Kuster Meets With Nashua Area Business Leaders About Expanding Rail And Transportation Infrastructure

Kuster Hosts Nashua Roundtable on How Passenger Rail, Expanded Transportation Infrastructure Could Support Economic Development in New Hampshire

Kuster convened business and transportation leaders to discuss the expansion of passenger rail into the Nashua area

Kuster Nashua Rail Roundtable

Nashua, N.H. – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a roundtable at Nashua Community College to discuss the possible expansion of passenger rail into New Hampshire and other ways to support transportation infrastructure and foster job creation around the Granite State.

During the discussion, Kuster heard directly from business and transportation leaders about current challenges and deficits in our state’s transportation network, and about how expanded rail and other increased transportation options would benefit their businesses and the local economy. Roundtable participants included Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Nashua Chamber of Commerce President Chris Williams, State Senators Bette Lasky and Peggy Gilmour, as well as representatives from the NH Division of Economic Development, the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, the NH Rail Transit Authority, the NH Department of Transportation, and Nashua Municipal Airport.

“During today’s roundtable, I was grateful to hear from so many business and community leaders about the importance of maintaining a strong transportation infrastructure to spur economic development and job creation in the region and across the Granite State,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “New Hampshire can’t lead in the 21st century economy with 20th century infrastructure, and I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure our local businesses have the infrastructure support they need to expand and create more jobs in the state. I sincerely thank today’s participants for sharing their expertise, and I look forward to working together to strengthen our roads, bridges, and railways so we can meet the needs of residents, businesses, and tourists alike – and protect vital construction jobs for our workers.”

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for federal funding for projects to repair and expand New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure.  She is a cosponsor of the Partnership to Build America Act, bipartisan legislation to leverage private investments to fund an Infrastructure Bank for financing public works projects like those discussed during today’s roundtable. Kuster also introduced the DRIVE Now Act, legislation to help the state fix our roads and bridges and support vital construction jobs. She supports expanded transportation options in southern New Hampshire, which would connect Granite Staters in New Hampshire’s largest population centers to Boston (and vice-versa), and help boost the New Hampshire economy and create jobs.

Last year, the New Hampshire Executive Council approved the acceptance of a $3.9 million federal grant for a feasibility study on the costs and benefits of expanded passenger rail in the Granite State. The report is due to state transportation officials by the end of 2014.

Professional Fire Fighters of NH Proudly Endorse Diane Sheehan for Executive Council

PFF SheehanNASHUA – Today fire fighters from Executive Council District 5 gathered proudly to endorse Diane Sheehan in her campaign for Executive Councilor.  The PFFNH believe that Alderman Sheehan is the best choice to represent the Southern region of New Hampshire in the Executive Council.

“Alderman Sheehan has continuously been a great supporter of fire fighters in Nashua and a champion of public safety. We are lucky to have her here in Nashua, and know that she will serve the rest of the people of New Hampshire with the same commitment,” stated John McAllister, President of Nashua IAFF Local#789.

“Diane Sheehan’s commitment to fire fighters in our area proves that her priorities are in line with what we need in the Executive Council. She is a community leader who values public safety above all else. As fire fighters, our job is to protect Main Street, and we believe that Diane Sheehan shares in that same viewpoint,” stated Rich Ducharme, President of Merrimack IAFF Local #2904.

PFF Sheehan 2“I am proud, honored, and truly appreciative to receive the endorsement from the Professional Fire Fighters of NH for Executive Council in District five. As a current Alderman At-Large in Nashua, I am well aware of the selfless service performed daily by our professional fire fighters. When others run from a burning building, these brave public servants run in. I recognize that they put their lives on the line for community safety. I pledge to bring to the Council their cares and concerns, and to work as hard in representing them, and all the people of District 5, as they do each time they answer the alarm. I humbly thank them for the confidence they have placed in me,” said Sheehan.

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, headquartered in Concord, NH represents more than 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedics from 43 locals across the state.  More information is available at www.pffnh.org. Follow us on twitter @pffnh

 

Nashua Legislators Honored For Their Work On “Paycheck Fairness Bill”

Nashua Area Legislators Honored for Their Work to Secure Equal Pay in New Hampshire with Passage of NH Paycheck Fairness Act; Advocates Call for Congress to Follow New Hampshire’s Lead

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators & Supporters New law provides all employees with tools to combat wage discrimination; appreciation event highlighted Nashua legislators who led way and called on Congress to follow

NASHUA, NH – Nashua area State Senators and Representatives were honored for their work to advance the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act during a ceremony at the Nashua City Hall Plaza on Thursday, July 31st.

Senator Peggy Gilmour, Senator Bette Lasky, and State Representatives Melanie Levesque, Sylvia Gale, Jan Schmidt, Mariellen MacKay, Cindy Rosenwald, Pamela Brown, David Cote, Marty Jack, Mary Gorman, Suzanne Vail, and Mary Ann Knowles all received certificates of appreciation during an event celebrating the passage of SB 207 and HB 1188, which combined to form the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. Governor Maggie Hassan signed the act into law earlier this month; the law officially takes effect starting January 1, 2015. All area State Senators and Representatives who supported the NH Paycheck Fairness Act were invited.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who worked full time earned, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar men earned. The figures are even worse for women of color: African American women earned only approximately 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by a white male.

Statements from Elected Official Speakers:

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators“The Paycheck Fairness Act will eliminate loopholes, increase transparency in wages, and ensure that all workers have the appropriate tools and resources to help them earn a fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation,” said State Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), bill co-sponsor.

“This law builds on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and provides stronger protections such as ensuring non-retaliation for employees who discuss their wages, and remedies to address pay inequity,” said State Senator Peggy Gilmour (D-Nashua), bill co-sponsor.

“On behalf of myself and my fellow legislators, I am honored to receive this token of appreciation for the long hours and hard work we put in to passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. No woman or her family should ever receive less than equal pay for equal work,” said State Rep. Mary Ann Knowles (D-Hudson), bill co-sponsor.

“This law will help protect all families. We know that when pay discrimination happens to anyone, that the individual, their spouse, and their children all suffer the ramifications of lower salaries, decreased benefits, and small retirements.  New Hampshire has taken an important step toward lessening that possibility,” said State Rep. Jan Schmidt (D-Nashua).

Statements from Event Host Organizations:

State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald Receives Certificate of Appreciation for Paycheck Fairness Work

State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald Receives Certificate of Appreciation for Paycheck Fairness Work (Left to right) Deidre Reynolds, Rep Rosenwald, Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Caitlin Rollo

“In America, we value hard work and initiative. The Paycheck Fairness Act honors that American tradition by taking steps to eliminate pay discrimination and inequality in the workplace. We appreciate the work of our local legislators to make this law a reality,” said OFA Volunteer State Coordinator Deidre Reynolds.

“Ensuring equal pay for equal work is integral to the economic security of individuals and families. On behalf of our coalition, we commend these legislators for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and for their continued efforts to build a New Hampshire that works for all of us,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance for Action.

While the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act passed with bi-partisan support, efforts at the federal level have stalled.

“New Hampshire passed a bipartisan paycheck fairness bill that will protect women and their families, now it’s time for Congress to follow our lead,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Everyone should support equal pay for equal work. We call on our entire Congressional delegation to take a strong stand in support of paycheck fairness.”

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster are all co-sponsors of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act. U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte voted against the Senate measure in April, blocking the bill from moving forward.

This Morning: The “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour Comes to Nashua

Give America a RaiseWashington DC – Americans agree: No one who works should live in poverty. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening to workers around the country who are earning the current minimum wage. While the federal minimum wage has stayed the same since 2009, the price of food, gas, utilities, and basic necessities has, with inflation, made it nearly impossible to live anywhere in America on $7.25 an hour or $15,000 a year.

 It’s long past time for Congress to give America a raise. And to help drive the point home, Americans United for Change has hit the road with the 11-State “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour supporting President Obama’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.  The tour will end outside the U.S. Capitol on April 3.

Next stop: in front of the Nashua Public Library TODAY, Tuesday, March 25 at 9:30 AM, with Rev. Gail Kinney of South Danbury Christian Church and US Department of Labor official Laura Fortman.

It’s been more than five years since minimum wage workers have gotten a raise – workers that include child care providers, janitors, and nursing assistants and who are 35 years old on average. It was hard enough to live on $15,000 a year in 2009, and it’s near impossible in 2014.

All that stands in the way of stronger economy – built from the middle out – are Tea Party Republicans in Congress who only seem to care about voting for minimum tax responsibility for huge corporations that outsource jobs.

Raising the minimum wage would provide a needed boost not just for the millions of struggling low-wage American workers that can barely survive on $7.25, but for the U.S. economy as a whole.  It will create jobs because it puts more money in the pockets of workers who will quickly inject it back into the economy. Millions of people with more money to spend on goods and services means businesses will need to hire more workers to meet the demand.  Decades’ worth of research done after previous minimum wage increases shows nothing but net economic benefits as a result, which is why so many successful business leaders and over 600 economists are calling on Congress to raise it again now.

No one who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty.

According to MIT, the living wage in Nashua is $21,422 a year be able to afford housing, medical care, transportation and food. If full-time New Hampshire workers made $10.10 an hour, they would earn $21,008 a year.

#RaiseTheWage

Granite Staters Rally At Sen Ayotte’s Office In National Day Of Action To Protect Social Security

Ayotte Dec. 3, 2013Statement from New Alliance for Retired Americans President Lucy Edwards at the National Day of Action event in Nashua NH 

As the president of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, a grassroots volunteer group of senior citizens representing 13,000 NH retirees, I am here today with others fighting to save our Social Security and Medicare benefits from any “grand bargain” between the President and Congress.  Right now in Washington DC, a committee of House and Senate members is trying to agree on a budget that could pass both houses of Congress and get the President’s signature.  Our junior Senator, Kelly Ayotte, is one of these members and that is why we are here today.

For many of us, including me, cuts to these earned benefits would mean the loss of our economic security in retirement.  Do not be fooled by those who tell you that there are no seniors in NH who are all or mostly dependent on Social Security for their income, or for whom turning Medicare into a voucher program to buy insurance on our own would most likely mean increased ill-health and even early death.  We’re out here today because we must be getting the word out. This is not some political game played in DC, this is very real and very frightening to many of us.

And let me say that I and my fellows worry about our children and grandchildren as well.  We are not “greedy geezers!”  When a politician says to me that any changes to the programs will not affect anyone over 55, the first people who pop into my mind are my daughters and their husbands!  When a politician says to me that raising the eligibility age for these programs would be fine because people are living longer, I think of all the people I know who have been without health insurance until now, and wonder if they will even be able to work til 65.

What we really need in this age of the 401(k) and “you’re on your own” retirement plans, and proposals such as the Chained CPI, is something like Senator Harkins’ bill, the Strengthen Social Security Act of 2013, which would fit a Consumer Price Index for us seniors to our true costs, including healthcare costs.  The Chained CPI would cut benefits now AND in the future, leaving us with shrinking incomes just at the time when we need the funds the most.

We are here to remind Senator Ayotte of this, and even more important, to remind our fellow citizens that we need to fight for our rights, including the right to a secure retirement.  Don’t let a “grand bargain” steal what we worked so hard for!

Thank you all for coming!

Lucy Edwards

(You can follow the NH Alliance for Retired Americans on twitter @NH_ARA and via their blog)

Kuster to Host Career and Opportunities Fair Next Month in Nashua

Jobs fair to feature manufacturing, retail, recreation employers from across the Granite State

NASHUA, N.H. – As part of her commitment to helping create jobs and opportunity for middle class families, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today announced that she will host a Career and Opportunities Fair next month to help connect local residents with jobs and employment opportunities throughout the Granite State. The fair, which will be held on Friday, November 22, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua, will feature employers from the manufacturing, retail, recreation, and postal industries, among others.

“My top priority is helping create jobs and opportunity for middle class families in the Granite State,” Kuster said. “That’s what this jobs fair is all about – connecting local job seekers with a wide variety of New Hampshire employers who are looking to grow their businesses and hire new workers.”

Job seekers wishing to attend the Career and Opportunities Fair can register here. Employers looking to take part in the fair should contact Collin Lever at 603-595-2006 or Collin.Lever@mail.house.gov, and members of the media wishing to attend should email Jake Berry at Jake.Berry@mail.house.gov to RSVP.

A member of the House Small Business Committee, Kuster has prioritized efforts to foster job creation, grow the economy, and expand opportunity for middle class families. The first bill she authored would incentivize public-private partnerships to improve workforce development for New Hampshire students. Last month, Kuster introduced legislation to extend and expand a federal pilot program to help boost small businesses exports. She has also supported legislation to make permanent the federal research and development tax credit, helped lead the fight to prevent pending regulations from harming New England farmers, and worked to protect New Hampshire small businesses from burdensome online sales tax collection requirements.

WHO:                  Congresswoman Annie Kuster
WHAT:                Kuster to host Career and Opportunities Fair
WHEN:                Friday, November 22, 10:00am to 1:00pm

 

WHERE:              Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2 Somerset Parkway, Nashua, NH

Granite State Moms Tell Senator Ayotte “No Mother Should Have to Bury Her Child”

Mothers Day Cards Just Days Before Some Families Face First Mother’s Day Without Child Due to Gun Violence, Mothers and Concerned Family Members Deliver Cards to Senator Kelly Ayotte Calling on Her to Support Life-Saving Background Checks

 NASHUA, NH – New Hampshire mothers, children and others publicly delivered Mother’s Day cards to Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua office today, calling on the Senator to support life-saving background checks. The event was created by local gun violence prevention advocates who wanted to do something in solidarity for families who would be spending their first Mother’s Day without a child or family member due to gun violence.

Last month Senator Ayotte voted against bipartisan legislation proposed by NRA A-rated Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey that would have closed the loopholes that make it easy for criminals and dangerous people to get guns. Over 89 percent of Senator Ayotte’s constituents support background checks.

Reading a statement on behalf of New Hampshire mothers and allies, Nona Storer of Nashua said:

“Senator Ayotte, no mother should have to bury her child. This Mother’s Day, our hearts go out to all the mothers whose children were murdered with guns. The moms of Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. And the mothers of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every day in this country. Now is the time for Congress to stand with moms across the country instead of with the NRA. Please support background checks for all gun sales.”

Storer and others then delivered more than 250 Mother’s Day cards signed by constituents from across the state, each bearing a similar message to the Senator. Several local community members also delivered their own, handmade cards urging Senator Ayotte to take action to reduce gun violence.

To mark Mother’s Day, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has also released a video message by Roxanna Green, whose nine year-old daughter Christina-Taylor Green was killed in the 2011 Tucson mass shooting.

Voter ID: Yes It Is Unreasonable To Require ID To Vote

Today the Nashua Telegraph posted a letter to the editor entitled “It’s not unreasonable to require ID to vote“.  This letter is obviously pushing for an ID to vote.   The writer, W. B. Heffernan Jr. of Nashua, talks about how many people have ID’s to have their taxes done.

“My job is processing taxpayers seeking to get their tax returns prepared at no charge, and that job includes determining that they have valid photo IDs.

The program is open to all, but caters to seniors and low-income taxpayers. The latter category includes “minorities.” These people, who the “anti-voter ID crowd” claims will not be able to vote because they won’t have a valid photo ID, have no problem in presenting one to obtain free tax preparation.”

I find a few thing wrong with this. First you cannot say that the people who are using your program accurately represent the state of New Hampshire.  The state of New Hampshire is a relatively small state but W.B Heffernan could not possibly know all of the people in New Hampshire.  Talking to a few dozen or even a few hundred people at the Nashua Public Library does not represent all of New Hampshire.

In northern areas of New Hampshire it could be a 30-45 minutes to the nearest DMV office.  For a senior who does not drive, this is a waste of time and money.

My other problem with this is that at no point does W.B. Heffernan say what is a valid ID.  Right now the Voter ID law is scheduled to change.  Durning the 2012 elections the Voter ID law required an ID to vote or a signed affidavit saying that you are who who you say you are.   This generated over 20,000 signed affidavits from people in New Hampshire that did not have an ID and wanted to vote.  Those 20,000 are the ones who continued to vote without an ID.  There is no way of knowing how many people who do not have an ID did not even try to vote.

Under the current State Senate I highly doubt that the Voter ID will be fully repealed.  What we can do is stop the further implementation of the second phase of the law.   Phase two requires polling stations to take the picture of a person who do not have an ID.  This is very costly and does nothing.  Are they going to post the picture on Facebook asking ‘do you know this person?’   If they move forward with phase two it will cost the state thousands of dollars every year to buy digital camera for every polling station and the training associated with it.

The second major issue with phase two is what is considered a valid form of identification.  In 2012 there were many acceptable forms of identification including personal recognition and college IDs.  So for those who do not have an ID but have voted in the same place for years the moderator can vouch for them with personal recognition.  Not is phase two, it is unacceptable along with college IDs and municipal IDs.

If we cannot overturn the Voter ID law then we must fight to stop phase two of the Voter ID law as it is written.  It will do more to disenfranchise voters than actually stop the fictional voter fraud problem in New Hampshire.  Not to mention it will cost the state more money, which is a serious problem in itself.  Would you rather see more money cut from our community colleges to buy cameras for every polling station in New Hampshire to be used once or twice a year?  I do not.

Nashua: Activists Rally For Immigration Reform (From Arnie Alpert)

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“The Time is Now”nashua 4-6-13 012 crop

More than a hundred immigrants rights supporters rallied today at Nashua City Hall  and marched to the offices of Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen to call for reforms centered on a clear and direct path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the USA. 

Rally speakers included Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees; the Rev. Tom Woodward of the Granite State Organizing Project; Juan Zamudio, a student at Derryfield School in Manchester; Marisol Saavedra, a Nashua student; and Carols Escobar of SEIU  nashua 4-6-13 040cropLocal 615.

In many years of working across the US, I saw time and time again bosses use the broken immigration system to mistreat, intimidate, underpay and over work undocumented workers,” said Escobar, an Ecuadoran immigrant who works as a janitor in Nashua. 

“When employers pay lower wages to some workers, all workers are affected and standards are lowered for everyone,” the Local 615 member added.

Participants included union members, faith community leaders, and otnashua 4-6-13 014cropher social justice activists adding their bodies and voices to the movement calling on Congress to act now for humane immigration policies. 

Following the brief rally, the crowd marched north into Nashua’s downtown shopping district and crossed over to the east side of the road by the office of Senator Kelly Ayotte.  There, they taped a giant letter to the window, where marchers added their signatures to a statement calling for commonsense immigration reform that fosters unity.

nashua 4-6-13 031“The time for action is long overdue and there is bipartisan agreement on moving forward,” the statement said.  “A reform package that includes a path to citizenship makes economic sense and is true to our ideals as a nation.  Taking action now makes sense politically, as well, since the American public supports immigration reform.”

Marchers continued northward to Senator Shaheen’s office where another letter was taped to the window for signatures. 

The program concluded with a statement from Germano Martins, a member of the State Employees Association (SEIU Local 1984) followed by a prayer led by the Rev. Sandra Pontoh of the Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ. nashua 4-6-13 109

The organizing committee included SEIU Locals 615 and 1984, the NH AFL-CIO, NH Civil Liberties Union, Lutheran Social Services, the Granite State Organizing Project, the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, the United Church of Christ Immigration Working Group, and the American Friends Service Committee.

Another rally will take place at State House Plaza in Concord at noon on Wednesday, May 1.

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All images credit to Arnie Alpert and Inzane Times.

Reposted with permission from InZane Times (Original Link)