Olathe, Kan. – Local clergy members, community leaders, and area families rallied at Sen. Jerry Moran’s (R-KS) office in Olathe today, urging him to support the pathway to citizenship bill.
More than 100 parents and children sang and prayed, hoisting community art made to reflect the stories of families who would be impacted by most significant immigration reform bill in a generation. Sen. Moran voted to advance the bill to the Senate floor on Monday, but has not indicated how he will vote on the bill itself.
“We are heartened that Senator Moran voted on Tuesday to begin floor debate on roadmap to citizenship for immigrant American families who have suffered under current law,” said Rev. Stevie Wakes, a pastor at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Kansas City, KS. “As the Senator considers his support for this bill, we are hopeful that he will hear the prayers and the stories of our faith communities here in the Kansas City metro and join in public support for the unification of families and a pathway to citizenship.”
The rally is part of the national Campaign for Citizenship, led by grassroots faith leaders, clergy, and immigrant families, seeks to bring the voices of people of faith together with DREAMers to witness and work for citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. But for organizers and participants, the effort is a very personal one.
“My dad was deported and couldn’t be with us for the funeral of my baby brother, and he is in Mexico now wishing he was with us,” said Israel L, a 12-year-old member of an undocumented family from a local Catholic parish who shared his story with the crowd outside of Senator Moran’s office. “Unless there is immigration reform, we will never be together and be a family again.
To help carry the stories of these families to Senator Moran, renowned artist Favianna Rodriguez (creator of the Migration is Beautiful campaign) led a community art workshop with local families the night before. Parents and children created a field of sunflowers that was used at the demonstration, and some of the children’s artwork was given to the Senator along with a letter from area faith leaders.
Organizers say this marks the first of a series of actions that will take place until the bill receives a vote in the Senate.