Immigration Reform Town Hall at the Duncan Theater

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Protesters outside Immigration Reform town hall. Photo by Victor Herrera-Ramirez

 

By Victor Herrera-Ramirez, Staff writer, Lake Worth Campus

On August 28th 2013, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr., the Lake Worth Campus of Palm Beach State College held a town hall with U.S. Representatives Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, and Alcee Hastings to discuss immigration reform and establish a path to citizenship for undocumented youth and their parents.

The event was open to the community and the Duncan Theater was soon full with students, faculty, and different organizations in support of immigration such as: The American Jewish Committee, The Catholic Charities of the Palm Beaches, Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), American Federation of Labor (AFL), The Asian-American Community, and Farm Safe International.

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Left to right: Charlene Rupert, Congressman Hastings, and Ana Guevara. Photo by Victor Herrera-Ramirez

Each of the U.S. Representatives, a DREAMer, and a member from each organization had the opportunity to speak about the impact of immigration in the United States.  Ted Parsons, the speaker from the AFL, called this “[the] civil rights issue of our time”, and spoke of “[the need to] protect the rights of all workers here in the United States”.  Jose Ojeda, from Farm Safe International similarly stated the importance of migrant and foreign works, as well as the need to unite together for immigration reform saying “without organization, there is no food on American tables” and “the Florida economy is dependent on manual labor in agriculture”.

While many showed support for immigration inside, outside the Duncan Theater, protestors denounced the “Rubio Obama Amnesty”. David Caulkett, Vice President of Florida for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN), and one of the protesters outside, stated “It is un-American to oppose the rule of law, and that is precisely what the pro-amnesty factions are doing”.  “The laws are not being enforced… and [the senate bill] will create huge costs over the next ten years… We don’t need more workers, we need to better prepare Americans for jobs, such as the African-American youth in the inner city who have over 40 percent unemployment”. He said that America already tried reform in the form of the 1968 Immigration Act, and that it did not work then.

Both sides of the debate used research to show the positive or negative effects that immigration will have on the economy. Both sides state that the current immigration system is broken. Laws reflect the entities that enforce them, and the laws of a nation reflect the ideals and beliefs of its society.  The immigration laws currently in place favor the families of immigrants over skilled workers, who are in much demand today. They create a quota system that does not adequately reflect modern day migration from nation to nation, and has immigrants from some countries waiting years to get to America, while other countries are left with an abundance of visas to the United States. These laws which make it hard to legally migrate, along with the political corruptness, and economic lack of opportunity in countries like Columbia, Mexico, and China, make it difficult for immigrants to stay in their native lands, and many make the decision to migrate illegally.

Society grows and changes over time, and governments stop enforcing laws that no longer reflect our society’s needs and our views. Here, in the state of Florida, there is a law (statue 798.02), which states that unmarried couples may not engage in “lewd acts” (acts of a sexual nature) and live together in the same residence. Many states have laws like this one that are no longer enforced. They stay “on the books”, because it is harder to remove laws than add them, but law enforcement stops enforcing them because they no longer accurately represent the society of today. With the new bill introduced in the Senate, and the renewed attention given to immigration lately, our immigration laws will be updated to represent the changing demographics of the United States and the changing needs of the American people.

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Immigration Reform Panel. Photo by Victor Herrera-Ramirez

Victor Herrera-Ramirez, Staff Writer, Lake Worth Campus