Over fifty members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement packed a meeting with Representative Tom Latham (R-Iowa) to share their stories and demand action on the pathway to citizenship for 11 million hopeful Americans.
CCI member Amalia Hernandez and her husband Alberto faced constant discrimination, abuse and threats at work because of their immigration status. “For a year and a half, we were emotionally and verbally abused; they called us ‘(expletive) illegals’ and said they’d call ICE to have us deported,” she told the Congressman.
“After I left the police force in Mexico, I was assaulted because I’d been a cop. That’s no way for my family to live, in such violence,” said Constantino Morales, a CCI member. “I decided to come here. Soon after, ICE came for me at work and I’m in deportation proceedings now. If I’m sent back, I will face more violence and could lose my life,” he told Latham.
“On my day off, ICE came banging at my door, saying they were the Des Moines Police; after they were inside, they said were ICE,” said Victor Torres, a CCI member. “Two of us were arrested that day for being undocumented, and if it weren’t because my young son is a U.S. citizen, I wouldn’t even be here today,” he told the Congressman.
After sharing their experiences as immigrants in Iowa, CCI members asked Rep. Latham whether he supported a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million hopeful Americans.
Rep. Latham simply refused, and said he would approach immigration reform “step by step”, with a focus on “border security and a system of verification” before any type of legalization could happen. Latham said he did not want to repeat the mistakes of 1986.
Jose Gutierrez, a CCI member and immigrant from Mexico who has lived in the US for over 30 years, told Rep. Latham that 1986 had not been a mistake. “If it weren’t for immigrants like me coming here, paying taxes, building roads, we would not be standing in the beautiful state that Iowa is today,” Gutierrez said. “I am proud to walk the streets of Iowa as a US citizen. What happened in 1986 was not a mistake.”
“A majority of Iowans support a path to citizenship, but Rep. Latham kept skirting around the issue and refusing. In the end, we heard he would not support a pathway to citizenship,” said Elvira Guerrero, a CCI member from Des Moines.
Members of Iowa CCI vow to keep the pressure on their members of congress during the August recess and push for fair immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship that will keep families together and protect the rights of 11 million hopeful Americans.
“What we have here is true solidarity, Iowans standing with our immigrant neighbors. Standing together, we will keep pushing to get the pathway to citizenship,” said CCI member Gini Wolf, from Ankeny.
Check out photos from the day here:
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