Immigration Reform Summer: Now it’s time for House action

This was the summer of immigration reform in Nebraska and around the country. While our congressmen were back in Nebraska during the August recess, they heard loud and clear across the state Nebraskans are tired of seeing our families and communities harmed by outdated immigration laws.

Community, faith, business, youth, and immigrant leaders attended town halls and held dozens of events and meetings with federal representatives during the August recess to urge the congressmen to support a common-sense immigration system that creates a strong foundation for Nebraska’s families, communities, economy, and future.

Families, youth, and faith leaders held “Keep Nebraska Families Together” events outside the offices of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry in Lincoln, Rep. Lee Terry in Omaha, and Rep. Adrian Smith in Grand Island asking the congressmen to support modernized immigration laws to stop the current separation of Nebraska parents and kids, husbands and wives.  Nationwide more than 400 kids per day are separated from a parent by detention or deportation.

Appleseed staff met with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (right) to ask him to support an immigration law with a clear process for citizenship.

Appleseed staff met with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (right) to ask him to support an immigration law with a clear process for citizenship.

The groups delivered Nebraska children’s drawings of family separation as well as postcards from Nebraskans calling for common-sense immigration laws with a a clear process for citizenship.

Also during recess, diverse groups of businesses, faith, civic and educational leaders held community roundtables across the state. These forums gave Nebraskans of all backgrounds and interests a chance to voice their perspectives on why Nebraska will benefit from a repaired immigration system.  The Nebraska Coalition for Immigration Reform, including the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Restaurant Association, Nebraska Latino American Commission, and others, hosted a dynamic roundtable of Lexington leaders on August 15.

IMG_0672Business and faith leaders — including the Nebraska Restaurant Association, Mulhall’s Landscaping and Nursery Center, the Methodist Bishop, and the Nebraska Catholic Conference — shared their perspectives at the “Bibles, Badges, and Businesses for Immigration Reform” community roundtable in Omaha on August 21.

On September 3, representatives of Nebraska’s faith, agriculture, business, and young immigrant communities held “Why Nebraska Needs Immigration Reform,” at the College of St. Mary in Omaha together with the national Sisters of Mercy, Creighton Center for Service & Justice, Justice for Our Neighbors, and Omaha Together One Community.

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UNL student Brenda Maldonado speaks at a press conference outside Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s office urging a common-sense immigration law that keeps Nebraska families together.

DREAMer Ingris Lopez, a student at the College of St. Mary, shared her story at the forum, including the daily fears many young people face of being separated from their families by our outdated immigration system.

“I am here now to say I’m proud that I’m a Nebraskan and also an American,” Lopez said. “I’ve lived here half of my life. I’m like anyone else, the ones who vote, the ones who have a voice, the ones who want to be heard and live a life of freedom. But, I don’t have that freedom. I always have to worry about my Mom being taken away, or my family being taken away.”

Attendees of Omaha’s Maha Music Festival on Saturday, Aug. 17 had the opportunity to play fair-style games demonstrating the pitfalls of our outdated immigration laws and the fact that for the vast majority of those without immigration papers, there is simply no line to get in. After playing the games at Nebraska Appleseed’s booth, participants took action for common-sense immigration laws by signing postcards, making phone calls, and creating social media messages of support.

See our online photo album of the August recess immigration events

It was a busy summer, but our work is not done!  Now we need action in the House. It’s long past time to update our antiquated immigration laws and we can’t afford to wait. As Nebraskans said during August recess, we’re counting on our House members to move the process forward so that we can get to common-sense this year.

Your voice continues to be crucial. Please call or email your congressman today and let them know Nebraska families, businesses, and communities are counting on them to accomplish common-sense immigration laws with a clear and attainable process for citizenship!

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