Letter No. 17 to President Obama: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 4/25/2013, 3:34 p.m.
Dear Mr. President, How would you feel if someone told your daughters that they hate...
Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now!

Dear Mr. President,

How would you feel if someone told your daughters that they hate Black people?

If that hurts, imagine how 18-year-old Jessica Bravo must have felt when during an advocacy meeting on immigration reform in Washington, D.C., California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher allegedly said he hates "illegals."

Bravo is one of millions of "Dreamers" in the U.S. looking for a chance to become a legal resident in a country she loves and has lived in since age 3. She had met with Rohrabacher, her district congressman, to urge him to support giving undocumented immigrants a chance to become legal citizens.

Rohrabacher, as you know, is known for holding hard-line positions on immigration and is firmly opposing immigration reform that would help undocumented immigrants.

So it's not surprising that Rohrabacher allegedly got nasty as soon as he found out the teen is undocumented.

"The moment I said that word [undocumented], it just completely changed the mood of the room," The Hill quoted Bravo as saying in an interview. "He kept interrupting me and he was just, like, 'Oh, you know, I love Mexicans, but I hate illegals.' He was just yelling at us and pointing fingers. I couldn't even talk anymore because I was crying."

While the congressman's spokeswoman said Bravo's version of what transpired at the meeting is not true, I still think Bravo deserves an apology. She, like millions caught up in the trap of illegal immigration in this country, deserves to know that she can have a chance to be free and not be targeted with hate and abuse by a public official for simply being undocumented.

It is another reason why, Mr. President, you cannot back off making immigration reform a top priority, despite what GOP folks like Rep. Robert Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, say.

Goodlatte claims, this is "an ethnic issue and racial issue." If the majority of undocumented migrants were not people of color, we would already have a pathway to citizenship. Look at the history of immigration in this country and you will see that Ireland, Italy and Germany were the three countries most represented at Ellis Island. They all came through looking for a better life and found it along with a pathway to citizenship. Why should Latinos, Africans and Caribbeans be any different in 2013 when they are making such significant contributions to this country, both as legal residents and as undocumented immigrants?


Felicia Persaud

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.