Rally presses Boehner on immigration
by Alex Coolidge, The Cincinnati Enquirer
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Hundreds of supporters of immigration reform rallied here Saturday to urge House Speaker John Boehner to push for a broad path to citizenship.
Religious leaders, union officials, legal advocates, residents and busloads of out-of-town supporters gathered in a parking lot downtown and later marched to City Hall, where the West Chester Township congressman has a local office.
“We’re here to ensure that pathway to citizenship is part of a bill that emerges and gets voted on quickly,” the Rev. Troy Jackson, director of Ohio Prophetic Voices, told the crowd.
“We don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. We know looking back to the civil rights era there were a lot of people sitting on their hands and we say ‘shame on them – we must act,'” said Jeff Cook, a professor of Bible and urban ministry from Cedarville University, who also spoke.
The rally drew a diverse crowd, both locally and from out of town.
“As a nation of immigrants, I think there should be a path for citizenship,” said Derek Alvarado, a Springfield resident and middle-school teacher.
Also in the crowd, listening to the speakers was Ester Arteaga, 44, of Louisville, who came on one of six buses of supporters.
A U.S. citizen naturalized from Guatemala two years ago, she said she was here to ease the path for others who want to live peacefully and work in America.
A receptionist for an immigration lawyer, Arteaga, her husband and two sons all sought citizenship at the same time. It took nine years.
“We came here for a better life for our kids,” she said. “We’re so happy to be citizens and we want others to have it.”
She worries for less fortunate family members.
Her husband’s brother, a former accountant, lives in Oklahoma; undocumented, he works in a furniture factory.
“Immigration reform is the right thing to do – workers should be able to come out of the shadows and not be exploited,” said Bill Dudley, director of strategic campaigns for the UFCW.
At a press briefing two days ago, Boehner said his colleagues want immigration reform, too.
“House Republicans are committed to fixing a broken immigration system,” he said. “We’re working on a common-sense, step-by-step approach to ensure that the American people have confidence that we’re addressing these issues openly and honestly. Our focus is on getting the policy right, so we fix our immigration system once and for all, and help our economy grow.”
The rally outside Boehner’s office was one of three events scheduled for this weekend. Other rallies were set to target House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill.
Boehner and other GOP leaders have rejected a Senate-passed immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Instead, the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to advance a series of narrowly focused bills related to border security and other immigration issues.
This week, a House subcommittee debated a proposal that would offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children but would not do the same for their parents who knowingly broke the law.