Immigration reform moving ahead in Texas

DALLAS-The hard work put forward in the 2012 elections continues to pay off for working people. President Obama has injected high energy into the campaign for immigration reform, and new life is coursing through its every limb.

On March 8th, the newly-elected progressive congressman from Dallas/Fort Worth, Marc Veasey, hosted a forum with local political and community leaders to talk about immigration reform. The main attraction was Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Chicago, who is touring the country to spread information and hope for genuine change in the present session of Congress.

The first set of panelists is pictured: Dallas City Councilwoman Monica Alonzo, Constable Beth Villareal, Congressman Veasey, Congressman Gutierrez, and State Representative Roberto Alonzo. The second panel included businessman David Alameel, College Trustee Diana Flores, Tarrant County (Fort Worth) Community College Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley, and Dallas County Community College Chancellor Wright Lassiter.

Congressman Gutierrez stressed the importance of Black/Brown unity on the immigration issue. He said that all 40 members of the Congressional Black Caucus had voted for the Dream Act to benefit young Latinos. He said, “If there is a community that understands racism, bigotry… it is the African American community, and I just want to thank them!”

He particularly applauded the new African American Congressman Veasey, because Veasey had not waited to be asked, but had sought Gutierrez out on the House floor to volunteer to help with immigration reform. Gutierrez also pointed out that immigration reform would benefit all races, not just Latinos. He expects, for example, to see 80,000 Haitians documented this year!

Gutierrez gave his ideas on the essential elements of the coming agreement. He said it will include a path to citizenship. Immigrants on that path will have a renewable work permit. Gutierrez did not qualify his remarks with “if” or “maybe,” but affirmed throughout the discussion that meaningful immigration reform will happen in 2013! “Yes, I see a lot of hope,” he answered directly to a question from the audience.

Chancellor Wright Lassiter took special pride in announcing that his community college network had been the first in Texas to allow the children of undocumented workers to enroll in college. Representative Alonzo spoke with pride and hope about his efforts to get Texas drivers’ licenses for undocumented workers. About 120 people attended the forum at Mountain View College in western Dallas. If they checked their computers when they got home, they found marches, forums, and speaking tours underway across Texas and across the United States.

As Congressman Veasey put it, “Comprehensive immigration reform and immigrants are good for America. That’s the bottom line!”

Photo: Jim Lane/PW