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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Meaning of Our Immigrants

RE YOUR Feb. 2 article "Immigration-bill Marchers Win a Nod from Rep. Brady":

I'm writing to clarify the significance of what happened and to address the long-standing misconception of the immigrant community and immigration reform.

Attendees including Indonesian-, Cambodian- and Latino-Americans encouraged support of HR 4321. Testimony came from people who have been living in South Philly for more than 25 years, a pastor, owners of businesses and homes, and people who work more than one job.

Most important, all of these people have been contributing members of their South Philly communities. They all support and love their family, friends and neighbors.
The only difference is that these folks were not born here. Under current immigration legislation. . .

* A woman is facing permanent separation from her son. She has been living and managing a business in South Philly with her family for more than two decades. Her son, who came here as a refugee with his family, may be deported for an offense he served time for more than a decade ago.
* A man who came to the U.S. legally hasn't seen his children or wife for years due to the backlogging of their immigration papers.

* A young and hardworking man who is providing for his family silently accepts great risks. He is vulnerable to violence due to racism and misunderstanding but cannot call the police. He knows that contact with police could lead to deportation, and then instability and poverty for his family.

Immigration reform is about far more than jobs and legalization. It is about family, humanity and giving people the validity they deserve. Jobs provide food and shelter to family and children. Legalization acknowledges the rights and the hard work of our neighbors.

HR 4321 offers family unity, not family separation due to old and outdated laws that need to be changed.

Mia-lia Kiernan, Philadelphia

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