Kalamazoo- Thursday, over 100 members of Michigan United held a symbolic rehearsal citizenship ceremony for “Future Citizens” of the steps of the County Courthouse highlighting the need to comprehensive immigration reform with an earned path to citizenship this year. The event comes at the beginning of the August congressional recess, which advocates are anticipating will be key to the immigration reform movement.
Participants came from towns across southwest Michigan, including Sturgis, Hartford, Fennville, Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo. City Commissioner Don Cooney led the group in a symbolic rehearsal of the oath of citizenship, the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem.
“Our country’s founding principles-equality, opportunity, freedom, hard work- are what immigrants have come seeking for generations,” said State Representative Sean McCann. “Immigrant families are living by these values, seeking a better life. It is long past time for immigration reform. It’s time for Congress to get past partisan politics and do what makes sense”.
Immigrants like Itzel Gomes, from Malawi, has been waiting for his visa approval for 15 years. Ivan Gomez, a small business owner, from Borneo has been in the United States for 13 years. Despite, working, paying taxes, following the law, owning businesses and pursuing higher education, there is no pathway to citizenship available to them.
DREAM ( Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) students, Victor Esparza and Itzel Gomez have been able to obtain college degrees and pursue jobs in their field of education, opening more opportunities than the traditional field work afford to them.
Demonstrators delivered approximately 600 signatures to Congressman Fred Upton’s Kalamazoo office to urge him to vote in favor of immigration reform.
The Senate passed an immigration bill in June that included a pathway to citizenship. The bill passed with an impressive 68-to-32 majority. The Republican-led Congress has left for August recess without resolving the issue. Congress will be back in session, Sept. 9.
Participants plan to continue with additional actions throughout the August Recess.