Members of the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) delivered more than 600 petition signatures to Senators Collins and King urging them to support comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million people. Their message to the Senators is simple: now is the time for leadership.
“As someone who is still in the immigration labyrinth, I am here to ask Senator Collins and King to support the Immigration Reform and help fix this broken system,” said Christian Muhitira, an asylum seeker from South Portland. “There are many asylum seekers in Maine how have gone more than 2 years without any feedback on their applications, fearing every day to be deported and sent back to the country that they fled for fear of persecution.”
“If we want to fix our broken immigration system once and for all, we need to pass broad reform now,” said Alain Nahimana, immigration and racial justice organizer at MPA. “Every day in America - and right here in Maine - families are being torn apart by our broken system. We need reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants settled in America, smart enforcement that respects basic rights, and modernizing and improving our immigration legal system.”
“Common sense immigration reform is in keeping with who we are,” said Doris McNally, an MPA member from Leeds. “As Americans we believe that what matters most is how you live your life and what you contribute. We believe that our country is at its best when we fight to make sure the ‘them’ become ‘us’ in a way that makes all of us stronger.”
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.
Last week, a coalition of Maine-based immigrant rights groups submitted a letter to Senators Collins and King urging them to take active leadership in passing comprehensive immigration reform. 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.
“This is the best chance to pass complete immigration reform that would actually repair our broken system, rather than simply pay lip service to the idea,” said Nahimana. “Our Senators have shown their commitment in the past to passing policies that improve the lives of Maine people. It’s time to for them to lead on this issue – for all Mainers and for all Americans.”