Immigrant Advocates Want Meeting With Hoyer
Frustrated by Capitol Hill's lack of progress inreforming immigration laws, a coalition of Maryland pastors rallied hundreds of Hispanic residents at a Brandywine church this week to rekindle the issue in congress.
From stirring prayers to personal testimonies, Union Bethel African American Methodist Episcopal Church in Brandywine was filled with people and emotion, with several sharing the stories of their arrival in the United States.
"We don't care who lives and who dies," said Godofredo Garcia, 26, of Silver Spring, who never forgot the words of the smuggler during his 27-day trip slipping into the country. "The smugglers ordered us to abandon one man who couldn't walk anymore because he had a problem with his leg. For eight hours we stood in a truck used to carry tomatoes, all 65 people."
The forum was held as part of a new partnership between CASA of Maryland, the Partnership for Renewal in Southern and Central Maryland (PRISCM) and the National Capital Immigrant Coalition.
The Rev. Kathy Hlatshwayo, president of the PRISCM and pastor of the Bethany Lutheran Church in Forestville, expressed her disappointment that House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, who represents Southern Maryland, has not agreed to meet with their group despite repeated calls.
"We asked him to come to this meeting and he has chosen not to be available," Hlatshwayo said. "They went back. We gave him several dates and unfortunately he said that he wouldn't have a date available until sometime in June. That is unacceptable. This is an urgent issue."
Sen. Ben Cardin (D) met with the advocates and the NAACP yesterday to discuss immigration reform.
The Rev. Jamila Jones, pastor of the Cornerstone African Methodist Episcopal Church in LaPlata, Maryland and Vice-Chairman of PRISCM, urged the gathering to try to change Hoyer's mind. "For the next two weeks until May 11 we want you to call Rep. Hoyer and asked him to meet with us."
This morning, Hoyer's spokeswoman Stephanie Lundberg called to say Democratic leaders are very focused on the immigration issue and Hoyer's office is looking for an opportunity to set up a meeting with the ministers and leaders in the latino community. She offered an apologye for not attending the meeting.
"We have received a meeting request and are working to set something up. Congressman Hoyer regrets that he could not attend the immigration rally, but he is very aware of the immigration debate occuring in his district and around the country."
Hamil R. Harris
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