Activists: Immigration reform can't wait

August 10, 2009 (CHICAGO) A number of activists say they are disappointed that the Obama administration has not given immigration top billing. Many believe it has been a roller coaster ride for immigrant rights and now is the time to push ahead, not wait until later.

President Barack Obama, meeting with the president of Mexico and the Canadian prime minister, announced Monday that immigration reform is important, but other priorities such as his health care overhaul and financial regulation are going to come first.

"I would anticipate that before the year is out, we will have draft legislation, along with sponsors potentially in the House and the Senate who are ready to move this forward. And when we come back next year that we should be in a position to start after," President Obama said.

Emma Lozano, a longtime Chicago activist, says immigration reform should not be put on the backburner.

"I am disappointed in Obama because he said he was going to do it in the first 100 days and that didn't happen...Hell yes, we are disappointed, because that they continue to enforce the broken law, families are being separated, and we can't wait any longer," said Emma Lozano, Centro sin Fronteras.

Jose Melendez is co-founder of Immigration PAC, an organization that promotes national immigration reform.

"We do believe that this is an important issue, and we're happy that it's being mentioned, we don't want it to wait, obviously. We do feel that this is something that needs attention," said Jose Melendez, Immigration PAC.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Taskforce, issued this response to President Obama:

"While it is a serious disappointment that the White House does not foresee a resolution by the end of this year, it is clear that the president understands the perils of our current immigration crisis. The American people want this done."

Many activists believe every day that passes without comprehensive immigration reform means another US citizen child is separated from her mother and another husband is torn from his wife.

"People are being hurt, the nation is not getting solutions, and the longer we delay this the more people are hurt, the more nation needs to wait for solutions," said Joshua Hoyt, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Lozano says just this weekend a member of her church was deported and taken away from his US-born children. She says another 40 are expected to be deported

"Barack Obama made a promise and he needs to keep it," Lozano said. "without separating families, because that's a sin."

The activists say it is up to them to make sure that immigration reform becomes a priority. On October 12 they will be in Washington to bring attention to their cause and to keep this issue at the forefront.

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