Immigration Reform Supporters To President Obama: Stop Deportations Until Legislation Passes
by: Pat Hernandez, July 19, 2013 4:07:00 am
Protestors came to the headquarters of the Harris County Democratic Party and delivered a letter addressed to President Barack Obama.
Silvia Chicas is a member of the group.
"Daily we get calls about people that don't know what to do, because they've had a family member deported or in detention proceedings. And so, we share the call of our people, we hear the call of our conscience, and that's why we're today. Because we understand the current immigration reform talks are not going in a good direction, and we have to be the ones that are telling our own stories, we the immigrant community."
Adelina Casarez is from El Salvador but she and her husband are legalized American citizens. Her husband though, is in an immigration detention center in Conroe unable to get out. She claims it's because of some paperwork problem.
"We are very worried that they're thinking to deport him, and I don't have the money to pay an attorney. They're asking me for $7,000 to $10, 000 dollars. I don't have the money to pay that."
Last month, 8 House Democrats that included Houston Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, called for the president to halt the deportation of undocumented immigrants and stop separating families, as Congress considers legislation that could allow some to stay.
Lane Lewis chairs the Harris County Democratic Party. He says the issue carries national ramifications.
"The Democratic Party fully supports efforts for immigration reform and has for years. Look, we were able to get it through the "Gang of 8" in the Senate, and it passed overwhelmingly and now it's at the House. And the Harris County Democratic Party calls on Speaker (John) Boehner to allow for a vote on immigration reform."
Despite pressing for immigration reform that would legalize some undocumented immigrants, the Obama administration deported more than 400,000 people last year. That amounts to more than 1,100 people leaving each day, some of whom have lived in this country for years and have spouses, children or other family members.
Professor Michael Olivas is a nationally recognized immigration scholar at the UH. He says almost any plan being considered is going to be better than what's out there.
"That doesn't mean the Senate plan is good. It's a very punitive plan, and it attaches criminal penalties that in my view are not warranted, and it doesn't recognize that we've already been repatriating people, deporting people at the highest levels than we have ever since the early 1950s."
There are currently about 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.