La Opinion: Immigrants in State of 'Hoplessness and Desperation'

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On May 1, Latino communities celebrate Immigrant Workers' Day. As years went by, that day became a time to call for immigration reform and respect for undocumented workers—all this taking into account that the U.S. celebrates its Labor Day in September.

We still remember demonstrations by millions of people in May 2006. At that point, H.R. 4437, a dismal bill sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, threatened to criminalize remaining in the country without documentation and giving any help to the undocumented, like for example a car ride.

That bill was defeated. Marches back then showed Americans the real face of immigrants. Entire families, some pushing their children in strollers, were completely different from the image of the dangerous criminal being depicted in the House of Representatives.

May 1, 2014 finds the immigrant community in a state of hopelessness and desperation. The only realities behind the rhetoric are that the Democratic administration—from which it expected a fair reform—has deported the largest number of people who posed no danger. Meanwhile, many Republicans abhor the idea of legalization for undocumented workers.

The desperation of an unsustainable situation has led to many forceful measures, from hunger strikes to outright defiance against border authorities by youths and parents trying to re-enter the country to be with their loved ones.

The feeling on this May 1 is one of frustration, being so close to reform—after the Senate approved it—and yet so far away from it because of the stubbornness that has rejected reform in the House of Representatives.

The road traveled has been long. However, we cannot give up, because the cause of comprehensive immigration reform is fair for workers and necessary for the economy.

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