Immigration reform is the kind of issue that brings people together from all walks of life. Although immigrants stand to benefit the most from a path to citizenship, we are all affected by the multilateral tangents connected to our broken immigration system.
Last Saturday, our North Carolina Community Action Team met so that we could raise awareness about the immigration fight and use our strength in numbers to pressure elected officials to act. The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that establishes a path to citizenship, but the U.S. House has yet to take it up.
Our members came to the meeting eager to discuss what they wanted to happen with immigration reform, and to take action. We decided to target Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee and ask him to vote in favor of bringing the Senate bill to the House Floor for a vote.
Our members wrote postcards to their friends, family members, and neighbors residing in the 6th District, asking them to call Rep. Coble and to urge him to move this bill forward. We were able to generate 66 postcards in the time that we met, and several folks took some home to send out later as well.
On Wednesday, I went with our member Erin West, to a lobby meeting with Rep. Coble organized by SEANC (State Employees Association of North Carolina) and the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Erin told Congressman Coble about her experience as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in the district, and how her students would be affected by immigration reform. “Of over 100 students that I taught, all were eager to learn, and came from loving, hard-working families. Some are now entering high school, and on top of dealing with normal high-schooler problems, they worry every day about losing their parents, or being taken away from the only country they know as home,” Erin explained. “We can’t afford to lose these promising students, and it would be nothing short of a tragedy to see them separated from their families.”
Rep. Coble responded positively, but in a noncommittal manner, that he too believes it is time to do something about immigration reform, but that he doesn’t know what that is going to look like when he goes back to Washington, DC.
It’s moments like these, when members of the faith community, labor, and concerned citizens like Erin come together, that our politicians begin to listen. While we are still unsure about how Rep. Coble will vote and what the ultimate fate of the bill will be, but we will continue to make our voices heard until the House takes action.
To get involved with the North Carolina Community Action Team, email me at [email protected].