Members of the campus H.O.P.E. Club (Helping Find Opportunities in the Pursuit of Education) recently joined with thousands of union members, immigrants, faith leaders and community advocates in a nationwide Day of Action to support immigration reform.
The rally to address comprehensive immigration reform took place in Los Angeles on April 10 in front of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office.
Citrus student Mauricio Gonzalez, 19, was a member of the Citrus H.O.P.E. club eager to show his support at the rally. “It was great seeing a lot of community between the people,” said Gonzalez. “A diverse group gathered at the rally and I feel like this movement evoked the unity that we are trying to inspire. By the end of the day, we all felt that we had made a big impact to show our sup- port for immigration reform.”
The Citrus H.O.P.E. club’s primary objective is to create a supportive environment for AB540 students. AB540 represents the undocumented students and their families who qualify for in-state tuition at some public colleges and universities. Members of H.O.P.E. club encourage other undocumented students to be open and unafraid of attending college and living successful lives. Immigration reform legislation has been the focus of intense negotiations on Capitol Hill since N vember’s presidential election. The last time Congress passed immigration reform was in 1986, when Ronald Reagan was president.
A bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators released their proposal for reform on April 17. If it becomes law, it will include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people now living in the country illegally.
Under the compromise, a limited number of temporary visas would be issued to foreign workers in low-paid professions. After 10 years, workers with visas would be eligible to apply for a green card. Three years later, they would be able to petition to become American citizens.
The California agricultural industry hires half a million farm workers each year, many of whom are here illegally, to harvest fruits and vegetables. Workers’ visas are a critical issue, as the state accounts for the largest percent of the national sale of crops—$43.5 billion in 2011, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Feinstein is not one of the eight senators who drafted the bill on immigration reform, but she has taken the lead in the effort to support California farm workers.
Feinstein hashed out an agreement with the senators that would give agricultural workers the opportunity to work legally with a blue card and qualify within five to seven years for a green card under the agricultural worker proposal.
At the end of the day, Feinstein released the following statement: “I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform. I have voted for it in the past. I support the DREAM Act, and I support an agriculture workers’ immigration reform bill with an earned path to citizenship.”
“11 million people who aren’t documented want to contribute to this country, as much as any other citizen. They want to get an education and they want to work. I am proud of my H.O.P.E. members and everyone else who has been putting in work to make this cause happen,” said Gonzalez.
According to the “Gang of Eight” senators, Congress is expected to vote on immigration reform in June.