PALMDALE – Before a standing-room-only audience Wednesday night, the Palmdale City Council added its voice to the chorus of growing support for immigration reform.
“We need to retain our families, we need to bring our community together, we need to quit separating, we need to unite,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. “I think a strong message coming out of our city may encourage our Congress to do exactly that.”
The Council voted to adopt Resolution No. CC 2013-063, expressing support for Comprehensive Federal Immigration Reform and urging the 113th Congress to enact reforms that secure our borders, ensure economic strength and promote stronger communities.
The unanimous vote was followed by rousing standing applause from the audience, many of whom were Latino rights activists who had spoken passionately for the cause.
“This issue is paramount because the face of our community has changed drastically in the last 10 to 20 years,” said Palmdale School District Board President Sandy Corrales-Eneix, adding that Hispanics now represent 70 percent of the student population in her district.
“The United States is a country built, since its origins, by immigrants. Let’s accept this comprehensive immigration reform as an opportunity and not as a threat,” said Lilia Galinda, Café Con Leche radio show host and Vice President of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “The immigrant community continues growing, let’s embrace them and work together to make this country great,” Galindo continued.
The resolution expressing Palmdale’s support for comprehensive immigration reform was placed on the council agenda at the request of LULAC.
Nearly two dozen people spoke in favor of the resolution Wednesday night, and there were no opposing speakers. Several of the supporters were part of the Antelope Valley Dream Team, a local group of undocumented students, workers and allies.
“Our families pay the social costs of deportations, of robbed wages, of not being able to advance our educations or employments, but it is city councils, it is school boards, it is hospital boards that pay the fiscal costs of an idiosyncratic and anachronistic immigration system,” said AV Dream Team member Cesar Vega Magallon. “It’s time to fix this… because my community needs this.”
“When I graduated high school I was pursuing a career in law enforcement to be a deputy, I couldn’t do that because I wasn’t a resident. I wanted to join the military, I couldn’t because I wasn’t a U.S. citizen,” said AV Dream Team Marisol Chavez. “My status has been a big setback in my future.”
“On behalf of the Antelope Valley Dream Team, I ask you to please get us one step closer to having that American dream become a reality for everyone,” said AV Dream Team member Maria Molina. “By supporting the resolution for immigration reform, you will send a message to our congressman and our community that we as the city of Palmdale understand the need for comprehensive immigration reform and we need it now.”
One of the most emotional speakers of the night was America Vega, who tearfully explained that while she was an American citizen, her mother and brother were not.
“My family can be deported at any time… it bothers me,” said Vega, her voice shaking.
“That is the heartbreaking part of what’s been happening in America,” said Palmdale Council Member Laura Bettencourt, after Vega’s emotional testimony. “Here she is with her family and look how distressed she is. That is not what America is about, it’s just not. We need to fix it.”
The Council approved an amended version of the resolution in support of comprehensive immigration reform, striking a portion that called on Congress to include specific principles in its immigration reform.
Resolution No. CC 2013-063 expressing Palmdale’s support for comprehensive immigration reform will be sent to the President of the United States, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the President of the United States Senate, and the members of the 113th Congress representing Palmdale.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also supports immigration reforms and has prepared a pamphlet to refute seven of the most common myths about undocumented immigrants. Read the document, titled Immigration Myths and Facts, here.
The S.744 bill (Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act), a bipartisan immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship, passed the U.S. Senate in June with a vote of 68-32. View the full text of the comprehensive immigration reform bill as passed here.