South Mississippians Call For Immigration ReformBy Evelina Burnett | Published 07 Oct 2013 09:35am |
South Mississippians gather to call for immigration reform outside the downtown Gulfport office of Fourth District Congressman Steven Palazzo.
Mississippians are calling for reforms to the nation's immigration system.
"I toil and struggle in your land, but the sweat of our brow is the same ..."
About two dozen people, including Biloxi Diocese Bishop Roger Morin, are gathered in a circle in downtown Gulfport. They’re outside the office of Mississippi's Fourth District Congressman Steven Palazzo. The prayer service is their way of calling on Congress to work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Jennie Searcy is one of the event’s organizers.
"Our focus is to ensure that family unity is a priority," she says. "Right now, people are torn apart by deportations. One family member is able to gain legal status and the rest of the family is deported and they can never come back."
Searcy is director of El Pueblo, a group that helps the immigrant community in Mississippi. She would also like to see more paths to legal immigration and shorter wait times for immigration decisions.
"Right now, people who are related to US citizens in this country can take years or even decades to be able to eligibly immigrate," she says.
Participants carrying signs marched as a group to the congressman’s office from a nearby church, where they heard Bishop Morin speak on the biblical basis of treating immigrations with respect. Monica Labit, who was born in Brazil, says she hopes the event will raise awareness of immigration issues. Family unification is also an important issue to her personally.
"Something to keep families together," she says. "I know personally, my family was separated for years. I was six years old when I met my big brother. I would like families to be joined sooner or just be able to visit easier."
Congressman Palazzo said in a statement he believes the immigration system is in need of common sense reforms, starting with increased border security.
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