Friday, November 6, 2009

Immigration testimony from Martha Felipe at Blueprint for the Bronx

Immigration testimony from Martha Felipe at Blueprint for the Bronx 10/25/09

My name is Martha Felipe of Our Lady of Mercy Church. But when you see me today, don't just see my face, but the thousands of immigrants in the Bronx, that I represent, each one of them with their own story.

Immigrants come to this country to obey the first natural law – to survive. We came here to have better educational opportunities for our children, to find better work, and to reunite with our families. We are not terrorists, we came here to work very hard and make something better of our future.

It’s so difficult to come here legally, and has gotten since September 11th.

- Many countries don’t have enough visas, and most of them are for professionals. The number of visas available has not been increased in 15 years, even though our economy depends on immigrant workers.

- Once you apply, the wait for papers can be as long as 22 years!

- Also, every year they increase the cost to just file the application for citizenship – now it is $700!

- That is why 12 million people don’t have papers. We’ve come here because we’re in between life and death – so we have to try!

I want you to listen to what happens every single day when people chose to fight for their families. I’m going to tell you the story of a parishioner at our church; I’ll call her Maria….Maria tried to cross the border from Mexico, to come here, and the “coyotes,” who said they would help her across the border, instead robbed her and raped her. As a product of that rape she became pregnant. On this side of the border, she was discovered and deported, losing the baby on the way due to miscarriage. Her family rejected her after what had happened, and she was depressed and suicidal, with nobody to turn to. She has a sister here who told her try again and she did. This time she was able to make it and now she is a member of our church, working hard to make a good life for her family. This story has a happy ending but we don't know how many others never survive the journey to this Promise Land.

We cannot live in a world where people have to struggle so hard to make a better life for themselves and their families. We have to change the immigration system. We cannot stop our fight until all our families can be reunited and allow then to have legal papers. This is our goal and we are going for it.

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