Here are my first thoughts and impressions of my recent trip to Washington D.C. to advocate in favor of immigration reform. We must keep fighting for the rights of law-abiding immigrants in this country to have a roadmap to citizenship.
I met up with the 400+ individuals from all over the country that were taking part in this educational effort. There were 30 of us representing New Jersey - and I am proud to say we were one of the largest contingencies from any state.
We divided up into two separate groups: North New Jersey and South New Jersey before walking over to the Congressional office buildings. We met with several representatives and their staffers. It seemed that the sheer number of us both overwhelmed and impressed the representatives we visited. We had come to deliver a message and we were not to be ignored. They appeared to have been ready for two or three of us, not fifteen at one time. We filled the entire space of their offices, standing room included.
We spoke on many aspects and repeated one major concern: Productive members of our society deserve a means to obtain work authorization and eventual United States Citizenship.
After an extensive meeting with Senator Mendendez’ Staff (The Senator from New Jersey is one of “the Gang of Eight” who worked on the first draft of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform) lobbying concluded and the American Immigration Lawyers, from the entire country regrouped as an audience to listen to several eloquent speakers, including Colin Powell, sponsored by the American Immigration Council. The group honored Cristeta Comerford, The White House Executive Chef. She is an immigrant from the Philippines and is the first woman and the first immigrant to ever hold her esteemed position. We also honored a child who was a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient as well as another immigrant who had suffered abuse in his home country and in the United States, but was granted a green card through a Special Immigration petition and action through our court system. These individuals presented moving stories and showed perseverance, true grit and hard work in their determination to obtain legalized immigration status in the United States. Their stories summarized why we were lobbying, for millions of people without a voice, without the “luck” to be recognized in the United States.