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August 18, 2006

We Are America Coalition Balances the Story Offered by House Hearings

Press Release

For Immediate Release, Contacts: August 14, 2006 Mary Gutierrez, (LA County Federation of Labor) Office: 213.381.5611, After Hours: 213.276.3384

Stephanie Kotin (CARECEN)
Office: 213.385.0312, After Hours: 323.313.7515

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano Heard Diverse Expert and Personal Testimonies on Contributions Immigrants Make to America

Los Angeles, CA. In response to Congress’ immigration field hearings, the We Are America Coalition held a counter hearing today at UCLA’s De Neve Auditorium titled “Balancing the Story: Ways Immigrants Contribute to America.” In demonstrating the real contributions immigrants make to the United States, the hearing today offered a different story than that being told in recent House hearings.

“As House Republicans are spending their time and using tax payers’ dollars to bash immigrants, we believe that the American public deserve to hear from a diverse array of experts on the immigration issue, not just from those who support enforcement-only immigration legislation,” stated Angela Sanbrano, Executive Director of CARECEN, a We Are America Coalition member. Recent polls conducted by multiple groups have concluded that nearly seventy five percent of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrant community. Only twenty five percent of Americans support an enforcement-only approach to immigration reform.

Despite these polls’ findings, the immigration reform debate in Congress is at an impasse. In an effort to garner support for their enforcement-only immigration legislation, House Republicans began holding hearing in July in cities through the U.S. These hearings have provided a platform from which vociferous anti-immigrant groups and individuals have been able to broadcast their harsh views. While the Senate is also convening hearings to consider a broader approach to immigration reform, We Are America Coalition believes that the hearings are not balanced and do not offer real and complete story to the American public.

“The one-sided hearings being organized by House Republicans serve to derail genuine debate on real solutions to immigration reform. The hearing at UCLA provides the other side of the story, the real story,” added Eun Sook Lee, Executive Director the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, another coalition member.

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, heard testimonies from a diverse group of experts and individuals, all of whom have extensive contact with the immigrant
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community and knowledge of the immigrant experience in the United States. Keith Parker, a Vice Chancellor at UCLA, welcomed leaders from the academic, labor, business, and faith sectors, and immigrants who made their voices heard at today’s event.

Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Maria Elena Durazo, was first to offer testimony, supplying the key perspective of the labor sector on immigration. She was followed by experts from the academic sector, UC Davis’s Bill Hing, Professor of Asian American Studies and Law, and UCLA Professor of History Kelly Lytle Hernandez, who provided an in-depth and researched analysis on the vital role immigrants have played over time in the United States. On behalf of the business sector, Juan Moreno of the Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas spoke of the multiple benefits immigrants have on the economy and the business sector. Jamal Watkins, Director of the Western Region of the NAACP, provided expert testimony on behalf of the civil rights community, explaining how the current struggle for immigrant rights is also one for civil rights. Mr. Watkins’s testimony was proceeded by the final expert testimony, that of Father Mike Gutierrez of CLUE-La and the Inter-religious Task Force. Andrew Jung, a U.S. born citizen whose parents were deported, opened the personal testimonies, and was followed by Patty Simmons, a Hilton Hotel worker, Adriano Elnar Carino and Ignacia Carino, World War II Veterans who have been waiting to see their son for over 15 years. The Filipino couple’s testimony was proceeded by testimonies from Elsy Zavala, an immigrant student, and Will Echeverria, an immigrant from El Salvador who is now a teacher. Rosalva Kuhn, a Mexican immigrant whose sons died in Iraq and received citizenship posthumously, offered the final testimony of the hearing. A team of researchers spearheaded by Dr. Octavio Pescador of UCLA’s Paolo Freire Institute will write the report from the hearing, recording the expert and personal testimonies, and detailing recommendations from Congresswoman Grace Napolitano.

Partnering with the We Are America Coalition, People for the American Way held a press conference today in San Diego focusing on the need of immigrant labor and comprehensive immigration reform from the perspective of the business sector. Among the speakers at the San Diego press conference were representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Western Growers Association, and professors from Stanford University and UCSD. For more information on both of today’s events in support of comprehensive immigration reform, contact Mary Gutierrez or Stephanie Kotin.

Posted by VisaLawyer at August 18, 2006 06:55 AM

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