The following blog is a guest post from Allena Tapia, who is in Washington, D.C. with the Michigan United coalition
Progressive allies Michigan United, ACTION of Lansing, Gamaliel, UAW representatives and other Michigan community members today joined thousands from across the nation in Washington, D.C. to demand lawmakers move on immigration reform that includes a clear path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people. Small groups requested and attended meetings with their member of Congress, including Lansing-area Congressman Mike Rogers.
“We formally requested a meeting with Rogers’ office about three weeks ago; this was our third meeting with his staff in the last couple months,” said Max Anguiano, coordinator of the civil rights task force for ACTION. Anguiano’s aim while in Washington DC was to bring Rogers together with area constituents and others concerned with the slow movement of immigration policy. Attendees included lifelong constituents, a US Army veteran, a retired fire chief and other activists. The group endured a 12-hour overnight bus ride from Lansing to DC, and an early morning trek to Rogers’ office on the Hill.
Rogers was represented by the staff immigration and agriculture specialist, Shannon Brown, who surprised the group by hustling them out to the hallway for a rushed, standing meeting.
“We are confused and angered by Rogers’ treatment of constituents, given the immediacy and relevance of this issue,” said Anguiano “If Rogers’ office waves aside veterans and lifelong constituents, who exactly is he listening to, then?”
The group pressed on, soliciting Rogers’ opinions on targeted points of CIR. When told that he previously voted against the DREAM act, activist Juan Flores from Michigan State University told his story.
Brought to the US illegally by his parents after a three-year separation, Flores grew up under the negative influences of his Detroit neighborhood. Despite early challenges, Flores was inspired by a mentor to attend MSU, and now runs a vibrant diversity program there. The group related that these young, active professionals are the population that Michigan so badly needs to retain, and that Flores represents the potential of every DREAM student– with one key difference Flores was able to become a citizen.
“I represent the potential inherent in every DREAM student, yet Rogers’ representative told me bold-faced that he voted against the DREAM act specifically because he didn’t agree with the path to citizenship.”
Despite the nature of the meeting, the group expressed a desire to continue to work with Rogers, and extended an invitation to a Lansing prayer rally to be around immigration reform, to be scheduled at Rogers’ convenience during the April 29-May 2 session break.
“Our desire was to communicate our concerns with our representative, given the long trek and time commitment that we undertook to be here. Rogers’ treatment of us as constituents was alarming, but we hope to open more lines of communication back in Lansing,” said Anguiano.
Additional immigration rally events are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.