Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Coalition Supports Immigration Reform

"Voters sent a clear message for a path to citizenship for all immigrants," said Juan Hernandez of SEIU 32 BJ at a press conference at the state capitol announcing the formation of Connecticut Immigration Reform Alliance.

Hernandez, whose union represents 4,000 immigrant workers, said marches will be held on March 9 in New Haven, Hartford and Danbury, and on April 10 in Hartford and Stamford.

"We pay taxes and work hard for this country. This is an issue of human rights," he said quoting President Obama that this is the time for immigration reform.

A call to stop deportations was also highlighted. Legislators, labor leaders and immigrant workers took the microphone to call for a change of policy that would protect family unity.

"I am innocent," said Josemaria Islas, a factory worker who was mistakenly arrested last July and is now facing deportation. "Stop deportations and separation of families," he exclaimed.

Mike Lawlor, undersecretary to Governor Malloy for criminal justice policy agreed that Islas should not be facing deportation. He said the state changed its policy last year and except for serious offenders, does not honor ICE detainers issued under Secure Communities.

"Secure Communities has made communities less secure," said Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield who is preparing legislation that would close loopholes like the one that allowed Islas to be detained.

State legislation to allow any resident of Connecticut who passes the drivers' exam to get license irregardless of immigration status, and a bill for institutional aid to open college tuition assistance were also supported.

The Connecticut AFL-CIO, which represents 200,000 workers adopted a resolution two weeks earlier calling on Congress to pass common-sense immigration reform that includes a practical and inclusive road map to citizenship and reflects core American values such as fairness, equality and family unity.

“The creation of a road map to citizenship would not only stop employers from continuing to take advantage of our failed immigration policies; it would improve wages and labor standards for all workers by giving immigrant workers a voice on the job.” said president John Olsen.

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