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Friday, March 19, 2010

Oregonians Help Turn Up the Heat on Immigration Reform

Oregonians Help Turn Up the Heat on Immigration Reform

March 19, 2010
Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR

PORTLAND, Ore. - More than 50 Oregonians are traveling to Washington, D.C. for Sunday's March for America, a national attempt to kick-start the stalled push for immigration reform. David Leslie, executive director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, is one of them. He says people need a clear and fair path to U.S. citizenship, and he blames the lack of progress on a lack of political will in Congress. Leslie hopes the size and scope of the national event energizes the immigrant community and other supporters.

"The real work is not going to be in Washington, D.C. - it's coming back home where you work your district, you're working with members of congregations, you're working with your community. I think a march like this provides a real boost of energy, to take some of that back home and further the cause."

Marchers will include members of faith, and business and labor groups, all of whom say immigrants deserve a fair shot at becoming U.S. citizens. Greg Delgado, Oregon coordinator for the Bend office of Jobs With Justice, will be there. He says the current system creates unnecessary hassles - and hostilities.

"We're a small community, maybe of 11,000 Latinos, here in Central Oregon. We still, on a daily basis, hear complaints - of worker violations, racial profiling with the police - that we're trying to clarify for the community as well."

Those who want tougher immigration laws say the country can't afford an influx of new citizens. Supporters of reform believe it's a human rights issue, and that people working in the U.S., even illegally, are contributing to the economy and often paying taxes. On Sunday, tens of thousands of people are expected for a rally at the Lincoln Memorial starting at 2:00 PM (EDT), followed by a march to RFK Stadium.

Oregon marchers will meet Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 3211 Pine St. NW, Washington, D.C.

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