The first meeting of the Immigration Task Force was held on April 19th at UUFE. We had a good turnout of about twelve people and began by going around the table and sharing each person’s reasons for wanting to be part of a group focused on immigration problems in the United States. Many expressed the view that the issue was very complex and were looking forward to becoming more knowledgeable.
Sue then led the group in exploring the meaning of different words we commonly use in conversation such as “refugee”, “immigrant”, “migrant” and “undocumented person”. We also talked about identifying specific needs of immigrants on the Eastern shore that included finding jobs, learning English, and trying to cope with recent pressures from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
We later discussed ways we might help with local immigrant family’s needs. One idea was to have a UUFE table at the Multicultural Festival in May. Another was to invite representatives of the local immigrant population to come and tell their personal stories at future meetings.
The remainder of our meeting was devoted to listening to a presentation from Sriram Shyam about an organization he represents called Immigration Voice. This national organization based in Washington, DC works toward reducing the huge application backlogs in the employment-based green card system as well as improving the efficiency and flexibility of the high-skilled legal immigration system. It strongly supports the House of Representative’s bill H.R.213, the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act”.
The Immigration Task Force plans to meet every other week and our next meeting at UUFE is scheduled for May 3 at 6:30 PM. All are welcome!