Focus on the Task at Hand

Posted on December 22, 2009

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Elvira Arellano

Yesterday, was indeed a historic day in the history of the struggle of the undocumented and their families in the United States and for the worldwide movement for justice for migrant families.

Together with Familias Unidas and a broad coalition of immigration reform organizations, Congressman Gutierrez has forged a group of nearly 70 congressman to introduce a truly progressive bill to reform the U.S. immigration system, provide a pathway to legalization for the undocumented and end the cruel separation of families.

It is true that similar legislation failed to pass during the previous administration but, since then, we have marched, we have voted and we have brought our reality to so many people, forging a coalition of church and labor, business and community, that now offers a new hope. It is our time to demand that the administration and congressional leadership which Latinos elected delivers on its promise !

On behalf of the millions of undocumented who suffer such fear and discrimination in the United States and on behalf of the millions of families that are separated, I would make this urgent plea: focus on the task at hand !

Those who lived without papers in the United States, like myself, learned the hard way what it takes to survive and keep a family together. If I had to clean houses and take care of other people’s children, I focused my full attention on the job that had to be done. We ll dream of better lives – but we learned that we had to do what was necessary to survive.

I know that many people have ideas of what immigration reform should look like. So do I. Yet legislation that Congressman Gutierrez has put together has the support of, not only the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus, but important leaders in the Black Caucus, the Asian Caucus and the Progressive Caucus. This legislation is the standard we have the opportunity to fight for and win now.

Some months ago, I was at a meeting of immigrant rights activists. They all had ideas. They all had criticisms of existing efforts. So I asked them: who here is without papers? No one raised their hands! I ask now that our supporters listen to the voice of the undocumented. This may be our last chance in Congress for years to come.

It is time we put aside differences and personalities and focused on the task at hand. It was our unity in the streets and our unity at the polls – and the powerful unity of our families – that brought us this far. We need to focus our unity now on the task at hand. No mas deportaciones! No mas separación de familias! NO MAS TIEMPO!

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