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Letter No. 85: Immigration reform now!

Immigration Korner

Felicia Persaud | 7/24/2014, 4:10 p.m.

Dear Mr. President,

Against the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty in New York City last week, dozens of New Yorkers gathered to urge you to make good on your remarks made June 30 to take executive action on immigration reform. New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform Campaign, organized by the New York Immigration Coalition, want you and the White House to “act fast.”

First and foremost, as I have statedin this column for the past 82 weeks, the coalition wants you to act “to ease the threat of deportation that millions of immigrants face every day.” Steven Choi, executive director of the NYIC, insisted, “This is critical for the nearly 1 million immigrants in New York who live in fear of being separated from their families and millions more around the country. The time is now for the president to live up to his words and provide the broad relief that our communities have been waiting for.”

“We are tired of empty rhetoric. We need action, and we know he has the power to give relief to millions of people. The time is now to show true leadership. We will not accept more excuses or any more delays,” added Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York.

And they are right—they and millions around the country who are urging you to act now! July 4 has come and gone. We are now looking fast at Aug. 4. Soon the summer will be gone. Won’t you act now for the more than half of the 11 million-plus undocumented immigrants who pay federal, state and local taxes, including $7 billion in Social Security taxes, for benefits they will never get?

Nationally, since 1994, the violent crime rate has declined 34 percent, and the property crime rate has fallen 26 percent, even as the number of undocumented immigrants has doubled, according to Tolerance.org, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Therefore, the lie that undocumented immigrants are criminals is simply that—a myth propagated by right-wing conservatives.

Meanwhile, according to the conservative Americas Majority Foundation, crime rates during the period 1999-2006 were lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates. During that period, the total crime rate fell 14 percent in the 19 top immigration states, compared with only 7 percent in the other 31. Truth is, foreign-born people in America—whether they are naturalized citizens, permanent residents or undocumented—are incarcerated at a much lower rate than native born Americans, according to the National Institute of Corrections.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said it best Saturday when she noted that a comprehensive immigration plan from Washington and your administration is needed to stop the influx of immigrants coming in at the border now while helping those who are already here to legalize.

But this week, let me end with the words of Glenda Villamar, member of Make the Road New York, who noted last week: “The president has said he would act since the Republicans have failed us. Now we ask him to take an aggressive action to protect immigrant families, stop deportations and take a stand for immigrant communities.”

Mr. President, I understand you are overwhelmed with the crisis at the border, the Middle East crisis and now Malaysia Flight 17. But please, don’t let the summer pass us by without finally delivering on your promise of relief to the undocumented immigrants. The time to act is past due. Immigration relief now!

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.