Statement of Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland and CASA de Virginia Breadth of Administrative Reform

Posted November 14, 2014 /

Statement of Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland and CASA de Virginia

Breadth of Administrative Reform

November 13, 2014

 

In a November 6 New York Times article, I was quoted arguing that even if only a few million benefit from Administrative Relief, it would be a start.  I misspoke.  I believe, my more than 60,000 members across Maryland and Virginia believe, that the President has a responsibility to provide relief to many millions of families, Aspiring Americans, from coast to coast.  After a long and painful journey together, we have very high expectations that President Obama should and will legalize all people who contribute to our economy, whether they have been here 10 years or 5 years or 1 year.  We believe that President Obama should and will legalize all parents, whether their work supports children abroad or children here, and most especially children that have Deferred Action status.

To describe the impact of this decision on the entire American family, I want to describe CASA members Antonio and Ruth Aleman.  The couple has lived in the United States for 11 years.  Their children, Beatriz age 24 and Erick age 17, were beneficiaries of the President’s DACA program.  Since receiving her green card, Beatriz has been able to get a job as a bank teller and is raising her 2 year old son.  Erick is in 11th grade at Surrattsville High School in Clinton, Maryland.   They are a family of community activists, leaders in their local Catholic parish that spend countless hours assisting the immigrant community in Southern Prince George’s County.  Today, Antonio drives a truck delivering food products to local ethnic groceries but at his previous job, the employer forced workers to labor exposed to toxic chemicals without protective gear. Antonio, fearful of the impact on his coworkers’ health, was the only one who stood up to challenge the conditions, filing a complaint and losing his job in retaliation.  The Alemans are heroes.  They deserve relief.

I would also like to describe CASA member Marie Therese Pango.  She and her daughter Cindy Kolade immigrated from the Ivory Coast 9 years ago and settled in Baltimore.  Like Erick and Beatriz, Cindy was able to apply for DACA status.   Now a college junior, Cindy thanks her mom for instilling in her the value of hard work and the courage to speak out against injustice.  Marie Therese, a music professor in her home country, took odd jobs and taught piano lessons to support her daughter through high school and into college.   She has become a local leader, leading her church choir and providing religious training to congregants at her local Catholic parish.  Marie Therese is a hero.  She deserves relief.

Who is sufficiently “American” to be provided administrative relief?  How many years, how many relatives?  We believe that now is not a moment of limitation but a time for vision.  This is not a negotiation with opponents of immigrants.  This is President Obama’s vision of who belongs.  And we are asking the President to be a visionary.  To embrace the opportunity that he has in his hands to welcome the entire American family.  Your neighbors, our members.  Fighters for justice who are friends, coworkers, sisters and brothers.