Immigration-reform supporters rally in Downtown as lawmakers continue to bicker

June 15, 2013 | Indianapolis Star| Link to Article

Immigration reform supporters rallied in Downtown Indianapolis on Saturday to call on Congress to approve a bill that provides a clear way for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States to seek citizenship.

Many are specifically urging U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat, to back the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week that he wants a final vote on the immigration legislation before July 4, though lawmakers continue to argue over security measures on the border with Mexico.

Around 100 marched from the Statehouse to Monument Circle chanting in English and Spanish. Some held signs reading “Have a heart for immigrant’s rights,” while others yelled “No justice, no peace.”

Members of the Central Indiana Labor Council, Jobs With Justice, IndyCAN, and other groups took part and spoke about the difficulties facing families and students required to pay non-resident tuition at state colleges because they are not citizens.

Joe Breedlove of the Indiana State AFL-CIO, a labor federation, said unscrupulous contractors and other employers can keep unsafe working conditions for undocumented immigrants because those workers may be too scared to complain.

“A lot of these people are here illegally, and they have no options or alternative means to become citizens,” he said. “Because of that, they have no representation with labor laws within the system itself. We think by helping them at least have a pathway to becoming legal citizens in the United Sates they will fall under labor laws and it will make workplaces a lot safer.”

Breedlove, who was in Washington last week, said he is optimistic that the immigration bill will pass out of the Senate. But once it gets in the House, he’s unsure how it will be handled. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he wants to begin debating the legislation sometime next month.

“Right now, we are taking it one day at a time,” Breedlove said.