Michigan activists continue fight for immigration reform

Prasanna Vengadam of Michigan United, seen here announcing a 24-hour "Fast for Families" at a recent news conference, is among those hoping 2014 is the year Congress will agree on a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Photo courtesy Michigan United.

Prasanna Vengadam of Michigan United, seen here announcing a 24-hour “Fast for Families” at a recent news conference, is among those hoping 2014 is the year Congress will agree on a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Photo courtesy Michigan United.

They joined with thousands of others in a nationwide “Fast for Families,” and Michigan activists say they won’t give up the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, despite inaction this year by House Republicans in Congress.

Miriam Cuevas, youth fellowship coordinator for Michigan United, said she was undocumented when she was brought to the U.S. as a child, and believes too many families will see an empty place at the table this holiday season because the immigration reform bill has stalled.

“Being able to succeed is very important, and to do so we need family,” Cuevas said. “And so, if families are being separated, then we’re having unstable households; kids are being ripped of the opportunities they could have had.”

Immigrant and labor leaders in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, and Detroit have taken part in 24-hour fasts in recent weeks to highlight the issue.

Cuevas said the struggles of the undocumented remain in large part in the shadows, so the goal is not only to get the attention of Congress, but also to make sure the people of Michigan understand their plight.

“I want them to be inspired; I want them to see and to ask, to make those questions, so that they can get involved about what’s going on right now with our comprehensive immigration system,” she declared.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill that included a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented residents of the U.S. However, the legislation has not been a priority in the Republican-led House. Leaders from both parties have promised to revisit the issue in the New Year.

This story was provided by Mona Shand with the Michigan News Connection.

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