HISPANIC AND IMMIGRANT BUSINESS OWNERS
CONFRONT CONGRESSMAN PEARCE
September 9, 2013
BELEN---Fifty Hispanic and immigrant business owners joined together to challenge Congressman Steve Pearce yesterday evening on his refusal to support immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The group, which also included immigrant families who are members of Somos Veguita, an affiliate of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, met with Pearce to discuss immigration reform and press him on his refusal to support a path to citizenship.
Paul Baca, a long-time resident of Belen and owner of the Long John Silver's restaurant where the meeting took place, delivered over 100 letters from Hispanic and immigrant entrepreneurs from Pearce's district urging the congressman to change his position:
"Let's put a human face on the issue. We are all immigrants here. Some of us arrived more recently than others but we have a common future. Immigrants boost our economy by creating jobs and building businesses. We can't have people living in limbo or fearful that their families will be separated any longer. We need a path to legalization now."
Pearce's plan veers off the road to citizenship. He favors of a temporary guest worker program for the immigrant workers and entrepreneurs who have revitalized eastern New Mexico and are an essential part of economic growth for the entire state. The Immigration Policy Center estimates that immigrants make up at least 12% of the state's workforce and Hispanic-owned business in New Mexico generate over $6.5 billion in revenue each year.
Elizabeth Perches, a resident of Veguita for the past fifteen years and whose children are US citizens, gave Pearce a gallon of milk. "This is a gift of my family's labor in the dairy farms," explained Perches. "Without our work there would be nobody to milk the cows and do the work that keeps our economy strong and feeds the people. We are part of this state and we deserve a chance."
The letters delivered to Pearce not only reiterate the economic contributions of immigrants as workers, job creators and consumers, but also point out that legalization is essential to the full inclusion and integration of immigrants into local communities.
Margaret Abeyta of Belen is a strong supporter of a path to citizenship as a moral imperative. "We are all gathered here as Christians who believe that immigrants should be treated with dignity and respect," she told Pearce. "We need you to support us and represent us well by moving a vote on immigration forward that is fair and just."
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is organizing a statewide caravan to Hobbs, the congressman's hometown, as part of the National Day of Action for Immigration Reform on October 6th. Immigrant families and allies from San Juan, McKinley, Taos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, Chavez, Curry, Roosevelt, Valencia, Socorro and Lea counties are joining the caravan to keep the pressure on Pearce and House Republicans to bring immigration reform legislation for a vote this year.
© 2014 SOMOS UN PUEBLO UNIDO