A coalition of Maine-based immigrant rights groups submitted a letter to Senators Collins and King today urging them to take active leadership in passing comprehensive immigration reform. Their message to the Senators is simple: the nation’s immigration system is broken.
"Every day in America - and right here in Maine - families are being torn apart by our broken immigration system," said Alain Nahimana, immigration and racial justice organizer with the Maine People’s Alliance. "As organizations working in Maine communities, we see the devastating effects of this broken system. Parents and children are living in fear and this should stop."
The letter, signed by several Maine organizations, urges the Senators to support legislation that would include a clear path to citizenship for the more than 11 million immigrants working and living in the United States. The letter also asks that any legislation include changes to the asylum system to better improve the process those who seek protection in the United States.
"This is an opportunity for Senators Collins and King to show their commitment to passing policies that improve the lives of Maine people. We need a system that serves our needs and reflects our values, and we hope that the Senators will work with their colleagues to pass meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform," said Nahimana.
In January, members of the Senate unveiled a bi-partisan blueprint for immigration reform legislation. As the Senate takes up the issue, Collins and King are expected to be major figures in the debate.
Maine's immigrant rights groups are actively mobilizing support across the state in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, including working to organize a large May 1st rally in Portland. In 2009, more than 500 Mainers attended a similar rally and march in favor of reform.
"We need a new approach to immigration that keeps families together and provides a path to citizenship. Americans-in-waiting need comprehensive immigration reform to keep families together, strengthen our economy, and provide a path to citizenship so that the American dream is accessible to everyone," said Nahimana.
Full text of the letter and list of signing organizations can be found here.