On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people marched in communities large and small across the United States to call for immediate action to create a workable immigration system that upholds our values and moves us forward together. This urgent need for the federal government to fix our broken immigration system has become painfully clear in the wake of a new Arizona law that betrays our nationâ€™s values, codifies racial profiling, and infuses communities with fear. This is not who we are as a country. We are at a crossroads, and we can do better.
Saturdayâ€™s rallies and vigils attracted huge crowds in more than 70 cities across the country including Los Angeles (50,000); Dallas (25,000); Chicago and Milwaukee (10,000 each), San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to name a few.
Here in Nebraska, thousands of families at Omahaâ€™s Cinco de Mayo celebration wore t-shirts and stickers for common-sense reform and signed petitions, while approximately 200 people joined a Students4immigrationreform rally. Speakers reminded the crowd that anti-immigrant initiatives are not limited to Arizona. The residents of Fremont, Nebraska, will vote later this summer on an anti-immigrant ballot measure that would further divide that community.
Saturdayâ€™s actions contribute to the growing momentum for federal immigration reform. Last week, Senate Democratic leaders unveiled a â€œConceptual Proposalâ€ for immigration reform that reduces family backlogs, includes a common-sense means for undocumented individuals to apply for legal status, increases protections for all workers â€“ U.S. and foreign-born, creates humane detention standards, and many other positive provisions. However, language regarding â€œenforcement-firstâ€ is troublesome because effective reform must simultaneously secure our borders and ensure that vulnerable and exploited populations are brought out of the shadows.
Now it is time for both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate to introduce a bi-partisan immigration reform bill that will repair our broken immigration system and allow all of us to move forward together.