Posted: Wednesday, August 21st 2013 at 6:05pm
Latino human rights group seeks to persuade Collins
By Jerry Gunn Staff
GAINESVILLE - Members and supporters of the Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights called on 9th District Republican Congressman Doug Collins’ downtown Gainesville office Wednesday hoping to change his mind about supporting the U.S.Senate’s sweeping immigration reform bill.
They did get an indication from District Director Darren Kendall that the Congressman is willing to listen according to GLAHR spokesman Amilcar Valencia.
“The community has to talk and say what it wants,” Valencia said. “He at least listens to what constituents have to say. If more people talk to him, call the office and say they’re in favor of immigration reform and want him to consider the Senate bill, that would be a starting point.”
Collins was out in the district and not in his office. He opposes a provision that would offer eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants.
“On the issue of immigration reform, I’ve made it very clear that it’s my job to protect and defend the laws of this country, and rewarding those who have broken the law is not an option,” Collins said in a statement.
Around 10 people visited Collins’ office on Green Street. Valencia said Collins is the third Georgia Congressman GLAHR has called on in an effort to persuade house members to support the Senate measure. The group held a closed door, private constituents meeting and then emerged to talk to media.
According to Valencia GLAHR is an Atlanta based statewide organization and is actively recruiting Gainesville area membership. Norma Negrete is from Gainesville and said she attended the meeting to share her experiences and needs.
“I believe he’s not just hearing what Congress is saying but the actual needs of the residents, the stories from the people” Negrete said.
According to Washington AP reports Congress' month long August recess could be crucial and supporters aim to exert influence in dozens of congressional districts home to Republican House members.
The Senate in May passed a sweeping bill with provisions aimed at securing the border, requiring employers to verify their workers' legal status, allowing many more workers into the country legally, and offering eventual citizenship to the 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally.
Many members of the House's Republican majority oppose citizenship for people who crossed the border illegally or overstayed their visas, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has ruled out taking up the Senate bill in the House. Instead, he's declared that the House will move in a piecemeal fashion, beginning with border security.
“That’s not what we want,” Valencia said. “We want a pathway to citizenship; we want legalization for more than 11 million immigrants who are here without documents.”
Hispanic advocate Dorothy Foster was one of the group members who visited Collins’ office. She represented HIPPOS, Inc., acronym for Helping Improve Policies, Programs and Opportunities for Speakers of other Languages.
“I want the Congressman to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for the people who are already here,” Foster said. “That bill was carefully worked out with a bipartisan committee and I think that should be respected.”
Foster,from Sautee,said she understands Hispanics because as the daughter of Guatemalan missionaries, she was born and raised in Guatemala.
The Associated Press contributed to this story
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