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Cleveland City Council takes lead and implores U.S. Congress for immigration reform

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

On May 17, 2010, sixteen Cleveland City Council members voted in favor of Resolution 675-10, calling on the U.S. Congress to make Comprehensive Immigration Reform a priority.
 


Ward 15 Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone introduces a resolution in opposition to Arizonas Senate Bill 1070.

Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone introduced the resolution to state opposition to Arizonas Senate Bill 1070. What happened in Arizona cannot be tolerated, Zone told a group of 50 immigration reform advocates who gathered at City Hall in support of the resolution and waited four hours for the meeting to begin.

Zone said most of the Council members share his sentiment that the immigration system is in dire need of reform and immigrants bring an immense value to the City of Cleveland.

The resolution has several elements that comprehensive immigration reform should include: earned pathway to citizenship, mandatory English literacy, payment of taxes, and background checks. Also, make integration a priority and improve economic conditions for all workers in the United States, enforcing immigration and labor laws and targeting those violators who pose threat to safety, and respecting due process rights of all in the U.S. and adjust quotas for future flow of immigrants.
 

Councilman Zack Reed, Ward 2, and Mike Polensek, Ward 11, voted against the resolution.

This is a good resolution but I do not support giving due process to anyone who is not a U.S. citizen, said Reed. He said his main concern is weeding out those who seek to do harm to good people. Reed says the new Arizona law has an undertone of racism that he does not support.

Polensek said he has not read the Arizona law to conclude it is a bad legislation and cannot support a resolution that is based on something he is unfamiliar with. I read before I vote; not just because it is the thing to do, or because there are people in the room who feel strongly about an issue, said Polensek.
 


Matt Zone

He said city council time is better spent discussing local issues it can have an impact on, like housing. This resolution is just a proclamation, it is up to the Congress to act on immigration, said Polensek. He added the United States has a right to know who is in the country and why.

Councilman Brain Cummins of Ward 14 said the city has a rich history of welcoming immigrants and the diversity of his Ward testifies to the economic and cultural value each community brings to the city. He supports the resolution because it frames the city in a positive light.

Veronica Dahlberg, director of Hispanas Organizadas de Lake y Ashtabula, said she hopes other Ohio cities will follow with similar resolutions and press the urgency of immigration reform in Congress. They are playing politics with peoples lives, she said.

The cities of Toledo and Columbus are considering such resolutions.

Carlos Chinchilla, director of Hispanic Alliance, applauded council members for taking the lead in this resolution and said more organizations must band together and rally for immigration reform at the local, state, and national level. This is a good start, he said.

 

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