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Immigration reform supporters raise voices in Franklin

Michael Actis-Grande, field director for Tennessee Citizen Action, urged the House of Representatives to take immigration reform to a vote. Photo by Kerri Bartlett

A group of immigration reform supporters attached to a national grassroots group called Organizing for Action (OFA) rallied Monday afternoon in Franklin outside of Cong. Marsha Blackburn’s office on the Public Square to encourage her and other House members to act on the issue. 
The rally, which included about fifteen individuals, was part of a nationally organized effort by OFA, which is a self-described “grassroots funded social advocacy group.”
OFA’s stated mission is to “advance policies like job creation, strengthening the middle class, gun violence prevention, comprehensive immigration reform and measures combating climate change that a majority of the American people support.”
This is the second rally of this kind that the OFA has held in front of Blackburn’s office. Earlier this fall, the OFA supporters demonstrated against Blackburn’s opposition to the Affordable Healthcare Act.
The supporters carried signs and chanted, “Immigration now, take it to the House … Take it to a vote.”
The current immigration reform bill passed through the Senate last summer with both Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker. However, the bill has failed to reach the House floor.
Supporters argued that the House has avoided the issue to stall reform efforts. 
“I’m tired of the strategy of not taking reform efforts to a vote if it doesn’t garner a Republican majority,” said Michael Actis-Grande, field director for Tennessee Citizen Action.
“This is a national day for pushing for immigration reform,” said Lynda Rose, Murfreesboro team leader for Organizing for Action. “(House Majority Leader John) Boehner hasn’t let it go anywhere. It’s [the bill] not even up for discussion right now.”
According to Mike Reynard, Deputy Chief of Staff in Blackburn’s Capitol office, Blackburn does not support the Senate “amnesty bill.” 
"It is our desire to see that Congress be effective in addressing the issues that are affecting the American people,” said Blackburn in a statement issued through Reynard. 
“The top issues we are hearing about right now are the impact of Obamacare, the loss of jobs due to healthcare and economic policy, and concerns for our nation’s homeland security."
Canadian-born Kelly Chieng, a 23-year-old international relations major attending Middle Tennessee State University, spoke to the crowd about her family’s struggle with current immigration laws. In particular, Chieng said the lengthy green card process was her concern. She and her family moved to the U.S. about 18 years ago when she was 5 years old.
“My parents applied for green cards in 2007 and are still on the waiting list to physically receive the card,” Chieng said. She added that over the years her parents have always renewed their VISA promptly, while enduring the high expenses to do so.
Although her parents have completed all legal paperwork and technically meet all criteria, they still await their card. 
“We need to fix this broken immigration system,” Chieng said. “It’s inefficient and ineffective.”

Posted on: 11/18/2013


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