Queens elected officials and activists applauded the introduction of a new plan, proposed by U.S. senators from both parties and supported by President Barack Obama, for overhauling the country’s immigration laws.
“The conversation our country is finally having about reforming our immigration system is encouraging, especially after many years of doing nothing,” U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside) said in a statement. “As the daughter of immigrants, I look forward to tackling this critical issue so that millions can continue to achieve the American Dream.”
A group of eight senators, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), outlined a plan for immigration reform Monday with the broad principles of creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while securing the border and implementing a verification system for employers to check before hiring. The outline highlights potential economic benefits of immigration reform and emphasizes attracting “the world’s best and brightest” to the country.
“This is an important step, and while we need to see additional detail, I am heartened the proposal includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers,” Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood) said in a statement.
Obama traveled to Las Vegas to give a speech in support of the reform Tuesday.
“The system is holding us back instead of helping us grow,” Obama said.
In the most ethnically diverse county in the United States, many Queens officials and activists have been advocating for immigration reform for years.
“We are a nation built by immigrants, and we are stronger because of it,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said in a statement. “But our current system is not meeting our country’s needs, putting this proud tradition at risk.”
Queens Congregations United for Action, an activist group made up of churches throughout the borough, praised the plan and announced it would be holding voter registration drives and education forums as well as meeting with elected officials to help spur the final legislation.
“For decades, immigrant communities and families have suffered the effects of deportations, separated families and living daily in fear,” Monsignor Fernando Ferrarese of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Astoria, said in a statement. “Citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans is the only moral solution and the only one that is consistent with our religious beliefs and American values.”
City Comptroller John Liu, who immigrated from Taiwan to the United State at 5, said in a statement that immigration reform would be a boon for New York.
“Reform is not just long overdue — it makes clear economic sense,” he said. “After all, the strength, character and diversity of New York City have been fueled by generations of immigrants in pursuit of their American Dream.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2013 Community News Group
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