Rosalba sang the song again Wednesday at a meeting with Rep. Luis Gutierrez,D-Ill. Dozens of undocumented immigrants told their stories and showed their support for comprehensive immigration reform at the meeting.
Both of Rosalba’s parents were born in Mexico. She was born in Chicago,where her family lives. Now,almost 14,she said her father,a factory worker,recently became a citizen and her mother,a homemaker,has a green card. Rosalba was inspired to write the song when her friends expressed fear their family members could be deported.
“I just want my mom to be a citizen,and my aunts and uncles,” Rosalba said. “I think this reform will happen. I’m hopeful.”
She and others are happy that Obama talked about immigration reform in his State of the Union speech Tuesday and that some Republicans also support reform.
“The conversation did not exist before November 6,” he said. “In D.C. there is always someone fighting you,but we cannot let them forget this one.”
He said the difference this time is that immigration reform has the support of the Republican Party.
Several organizations traveled from around the country to attend the meeting. The Congress of Day Laborers,a non-profit from New Orleans,raised enough money to send 25 members.
Luis Zavala,45,a New Orleans vender and member of the nonprofit,received a deportation notice along with his wife more than a year ago after they were both arrested for making sales on private property. Zavala said he was unaware it was a private location and has been fighting the deportation ever since.
He and his wife have a 16-month-old son who was born in the U.S.
“I need this reform to happen,” Zavala said in Spanish. “For my son,I want him to stay and have this American experience.”
The meeting took place on the same day that the Senate Judiciary Committee met to discuss more specific details for reform. Janet Napolitano,secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,discussed border security,Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and an earned pathway to citizenship with committee members.
Minutes into her testimony,protesters interrupted,demanding an end to deportation and the separation of families. They were escorted out of the hearing room by police officers. There were a total of three protests at the hearing,which resulted in some arrests.
Jose Antonio Vargas,a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who is an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines,discussed how his family sent him to the U.S when he was 12. He didn’t realize for several years that he was not here legally.
“Too often,we’re treated as abstractions,faceless and nameless,visibly invisible,mere subjects of debate rather than individuals with families,hopes,fears and dreams,” he said.
Reach reporter Jasmine Aguilera at [email protected] or 202-326-9866. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.