The Heartland Workers Center meets with Senator Mike Johanns to discuss immigration

Since March of this year, the HWC has been working on the immigration campaign, Lifting Latino Voices, Sharing Our Stories, a nationwide campaign with the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), which calls upon Congress to stop deportations, reunite families, and pass a comprehensive immigration reform that puts people on a path to citizenship.  As a part of this campaign, the HWC has been collecting postcards to send to the Nebraska Congressional Delegation urging them to equip the nation with a truly adequate and humane immigration policy solution (click here to print off and sign the card).  The HWC also participated in a press conference in Lincoln with 40 other Nebraska organizations to once again call upon Senators and Representatives to act.  The HWC has also been working with Nebraska Appleseed to set up and meet with members of the Nebraska Congressional Delegation to discuss immigration reform, sharing the stories of Latino/a immigrants.  The first of these was with Senator Johanns.

On Tuesday, April 30, representatives from local small and large companies, academia, university students, and local non-profit organizations met with Senator Johanns at his Omaha office.   There, stories were shared of how immigration policy has affected them as residents of Nebraska.  Two young immigrant women share their stories of how they were able to benefit from immigration legislation – one whose family became citizens through the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 and the other who gained a work permit through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but is still looking for more.  A business owner stated that some of his employees were forced to quit after immigration officials audited his company; they did not leave the country, but instead took their talent with them to work with local competitors.

While Senator Johanns listened to the stories and concerns of his constituents, he said that arriving at a position on the bill, S.744, would be premature because the bill that was initially introduced is probably not the same bill that will end up in front of the Senate floor.  This statement has already come to fruition.  On May 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee began discussing the intricacies of the bill and the more than 300 amendments up for consideration.  In the House of Representatives’, the so-called “Gang of Eight” (also made up of four Republicans and four Democrats) continues to work on its own immigration proposal, which is expected to be more conservative than the Senate bill.

 As the House and Senate continue to debate the issues, it is our job as organizations and a community to continue to pressure our elected officials to act, and in a way that equips our nation with an adequate and humane immigration policy.