Pro-immigration demonstrators rally for Republican Rep. Bill Young's support
A small group of pro-immigration demonstrators waved signs in front of a Largo restaurant where Republican member of Congress Bill Young was dining Monday night. So far, Young has not supported an immigration bill in the House that includes a pathway to citizenship. Jasmine Forcan, a Bosnian immigrant, said the bill should be a partisan issue.
â€œTheyâ€™re tearing families apart; the kids are suffering being traumatized. Itâ€™s just not â€“ when I came here 40 years ago, it was much easier to get into the country. I think they should stop deporting immediately.â€
The bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of 8 U.S. Senators and has already passed the Senate. Itâ€™s now waiting on a House vote, but Republicans are reluctant to pass a bill that doesnâ€™t include beefed up border security. One of the eight pro-immigrant activists, Nellie Rodriguez, said the bill already includes a plan for increased border patrol.
â€œThey could do that meanwhile, but they donâ€™t have to wait to increase the border in order to pass the bill. This is another issue that they should work on it. I mean, itâ€™s important, but in this case they should do it, but let the reform go through.â€
The group gathered in front of Alfanoâ€™s Restaurant to make a plea to 43-year member of Congress Bill Young who was there receiving an award from Largo Republicans. One of them, Curtis Holmes, said heâ€™s not anti-immigration because this country was founded it.
â€œBut, everybody who did come here paid a price.â€
Holmes wouldnâ€™t say whether he was for or against the bill as it passed the Senate, but he does favor some sort of immigration reform as long as it includes closed borders.
â€œIf youâ€™re gong to have comprehensive immigration reform in this country â€“ number one â€“ you canâ€™t have open borders. No society has ever survived with open borders, itâ€™s never happened. So, number one you have to secure the borders.â€
Holmes came out of the restaurant to find out why the group was protesting. Rodriguez, the demonstrator who pointed out the bill already includes increased border patrol, listened intently as he talked about work visas and farmworker oversight. After, she said the mixed bag of talking points is watering down the legislation.
â€œNow, when it goes to the Representatives and everybody [has] a different idea about this, all they do is make it a worse problem. Thatâ€™s my concern is that it wonâ€™t pass because people have other criteria and other things and really, itâ€™s not going anywhere.â€
Another protester, Linda Stuller, held a sign asking Bill Young to do the right thing by reaching across the aisle. Many Republicans have argued the legislation creates amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Stuller pointed to the pathway to citizenship in the bill which includes thousands of dollars in fees and taxes as well as extensive waiting periods.
â€œWe have 11 million people here who are in a sub-class that we need to deal with and what makes sense to me is to have the kind of pathway to citizenship that there are requirements they have to meet. Itâ€™s not an open ended kind of thing. Itâ€™s not amnesty where people can just pour in through the border and just give out citizenship â€“ weâ€™re not giving out citizenship.â€
Some critics of the immigration bill also argue there is already a pathway to citizenship. People in the country without documentation could return to their countries and then come back into the United States legally. But Stuller said that takes too long and isnâ€™t always an option.
â€œThe idea that people who have established homes here, who have families are going to leave and then sit there for 20 years while their children grow up here is just a horrible situation and if thatâ€™s the answer that people have, itâ€™s not good enough for me.â€
The group of activists said the showing was small because many immigration supporters were at a different meeting. There will be another rally July 24th at 6 in the afternoon in Pinellas Park. People will wave signs on the corner of U.S. 19 and Park Boulevard.
Previous coverage of the immigration bill