More than 100 gathered in blustery conditions in Nashua on Saturday for a rally calling for immigration reform. The rally, which was promoted by a coalition of organizations including the SEA, AFL-CIO and many others, took place at City Hall, and was followed by a march to the offices of Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, where participants posted signed letters calling for “commonsense reform.”
This effort is part of a larger one that the SEIU has undertaken, seeking reform that “provides a clear roadmap to citizenship for hardworking, tax-paying immigrants; builds the strength and unity of working people; keeps families together; and guarantees the same rights, obligations and basic fairness for all workers, no matter where they come from.”
“We have seen the politics of division at play for too long and the outcome of it hurts all of us,” said SEA President Diana Lacey.
SEA Board Member Germano Martins, who immigrated here from Brazil in the 1970s, was one of the final speakers at the rally. In his remarks, he said that we, the people, have the power to effect change.
“There is no power greater than when the people of this great nation come together to stand for what is right,” he said. “You have seen it when they said women shouldn’t be allowed to vote.”
“You have seen it when they separated our children by race and color and said that ‘separate but equal’ is OK,” he said. “You said ‘nay.’ They were wrong, you were right. Now, when they say immigrant families can be separated by their immigration status and that ‘separated is still equal,’ we come together again to say that is not right, it was wrong then, it is wrong now.”
Martins said that current immigration policies tear families apart, when we should be strengthening the family unit.
“I propose to you that the test of a ‘humane and just immigration policy’ is whether it preserves the family, whether it promotes family unification, whether it keeps families together and whether it includes a path to citizenship,” he said.
In closing, he said the time for reform is now, because we can’t pass this problem down to our children.
In statements to The Telegraph, both Sens. Shaheen and Ayotte agreed that reform is needed. They may get a chance to weigh in soon, as a hearing is scheduled for next week in the U.S. Senate on the yet-to-be unveiled reform legislation.
Another rally held Tuesday in Manchester pointed to the need for reform sooner rather than later. That rally was in response to a crackdown over the weekend by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that led to the arrests of several. Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee said immigration enforcement is broken.
“In lots of ways, it’s a very flawed system,” Fogarty told The Telegraph. “It’s all too aggressive, and the way we’re investing so much money into this makes no sense at all.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated as the reform efforts progress in Washington.