Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bellingham - Immigration Reform Vigil

This report is from Rosalinda Guillen, Executive Director of Community to Community (C2C). Community to Community Development is a place-based, grassroots organization committed to creating alliances in order to strengthen local and global movements towards social, economic and environmental justice.
Aline Soundy hands out flyers and speaks with a Bellingham resident about the current immigration reform bill


On May 22nd Community to Communtiy Leaders joined Hate Free Zone and Washington CAN on a 24hr. fast and vigil to call awarenes to the debate taking place in Congress on a bill to reform our nation's immigration laws. Pramila Jayapal and Maru Villalpando in Seattle, Aline Soundy, David Cahn and I in Bellingham fasted and held this vigil for 24hrs in front of the Federal buildings.

We strongly believe that this compromise is flawed, for many reasons and needs some serious amendments to it, as you can see by the article below other folks agree with us though for very different reasons. I would like to report that we printed 300 flyers and ran out by 11am Wednesday morning, we spoke with over 400 interested passersby, some did not want to take a flyer, most listened politely, agreed or disagreed , a few were very rude and vociferous and anti-immigrants in general. We were on the corner pictured above from noon Tuesday until noon Wednesday. We were joined on both days by many friends as the day waned and nightfall swept in, Catherine Chambers, Cayla Casciani, Joseph Moore, John McGarrity, Marie Marchand,Ellen Murphy, Adam, Sean Hoppsand others. Nancy Ging, Funke Olise were two that stayed with us through the night.

Together we witnessed downtown Bellingham at night and enjoyed the visits from the young homeless folk that inspired us to continue our social justice work when they insisted on giving to our efforts from the very little they have, because they still believe we should all care about each other and that our country is on a very bad direction. One said as he gave us his blanket"It's sad that after only 200 years we are already in moral decline, it took Rome a lot longer" Once again we must remember that we are all connected and will be impacted in one way or another by whatever immigration reform bill passes. How can we possibly live with the shame of not speaking out against a bill that provides funding for detaining 27,500 people a day on an annual basis.

Finally and happily I want to say that overwhelmingly folks were very supportive of a just and fair immigration reform, supportive of immigrants and their families documented and otherwise, understood our issues with the current bill and committed to call Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell as well as Representative Rick Larsen and ask them to slow down, do not vote on this bill yet and get more input from folks in the Districts. The information from the Yakima Herald article also shows that most people recognize this bill as it is written is not the answer to immigration law reform.

Maybe this time they will live up to their leadership and do the right thing, though their current votes on the Iraq war funding bills does not give us much hope. We will continue to build community in Whatcom County and for us at C2C we will do the right thing at home, regardless of what Congress decides.

- Rosalinda Guillen -

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