Left Justified: We’re all immigrants

We’re all immigrants here in America—or at least our genes are. They were brought over by our ancestors, who then fought with the natives for this beautiful country. The United States of America is a nation of immigrants who worked hard and made a lot of money. And like any fat and sassy, wealthy people, most Americans want to keep their money and not share it with anyone. So conservative third-and fourth-generation immigrants try to stop the flow of new immigrants into this country. We still need people to mow our grass, wash the dishes, and pick crops for our dinner table, because we fat and rich Americans can’t stoop.

So I’d like to invite you to hear from the newest immigrants’ perspective, or at least from a United Methodist minister who knows the travails of many of the Hispanic immigrants that come to northern Illinois.

I invite you to a special Coffee Talk on “Immigrant Rights” with Rev. Francisco Ramos of Centennial United Methodist Church, Monday, March 15, 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, 4848 Turner Street (that’s four blocks north and east of Alpine and State).

Rev. Ramos is a new pastor in town and director of the Hispanic ministry. He will talk about immigrants’ rights, the movement in the United States and the latest proposal from President Bush. He will also speak about his personal experiences with immigrants in northern Illinois and discuss some of the resources available.

Rev. Ramos may bring Luis Gutierrez, who is executive director of Latinos Progresando, the premier Latino-led-and-managed immigration nonprofit agency in Chicago. He will talk about the DREAM Act, a bill in the U.S. Congress to allow undocumented immigrant young students to attend college and obtain legal status after graduation (that’s a dream).

Also topics of discussion will be a tenant-landlord bill now in Springfield that will protect tenant rights in the state. This is a key issue for immigrants, who are vulnerable to housing abuse. Also, there is the Campaign for Driver’s Licenses without the Social Security requirement, being headed by Senator Miguel Del Valle. That means people who drive on Illinois roads will have a license, and then be able to get insurance.

Little by little, these new immigrants will become Americans, and then their grandkids will be yammering to keep out the next wave of immigrants. It could be worse.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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