Public News Service – NM
HOBBS — Over the weekend, a statewide caravan converged on Hobbs, in Lea County, the hometown of Congressman Steve Pearce. The “On the Road to Citizenship” caravan marked the end of a series of events to contest Pearce’s refusal to support a path to citizenship as part of immigration reform. Immigrant families, faith leaders and their allies from across the state have held protest marches, prayer rallies and town hall meetings in Pearce’s district.
New Mexicans have rallied through the summer to convince US Rep. Steve Pearce of Lea County to support immigration reform in the U. S. House of Representatives. This is the On the Road to Citizenship parade float that was part of that effort. (Photo courtesy of Somos Un Pueblo Unido.)
Marina Piña, community organizer at Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said Pearce supports a guest worker program, but she says that won’t work.
“That doesn’t meet the need of our families. Having a guest worker permit, families would continue living in limbo without knowing exactly what’s going to happen to the future of that family, Piña said.
Protestors came from 10 different counties for the caravan. Pearce said offering citizenship as a policy makes him nervous. Piña said the government shutdown will not stop efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Last week, 50 Hispanic and immigrant business owners met with Pearce in Belen, Piña added, and they delivered 100 letters urging support of immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Immigration advocates still have a long way to go in getting their message through to the congressman, she said.
“It’s not political for us. It’s workers that are getting abused because they don’t have the proper documents, so employers might take advantage of that,” she explained.
Despite the lack of support for immigration reform shown by Rep. Pearce, the House has the votes to pass it, Piña said, and she urged advocates for citizenship to not give up, because their families depend upon this.
“There is no way that we’re going to stop now, to let more time pass, because, in the meantime, our familias are getting deported and getting separated from their U. S. citizen children,” she said.
Despite the government shutdown, Piña said she thinks immigration reform can pass in 2013.