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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Immigrant rights addressed at the Democratic Women’s meeting


Wichita Peace and Freedom Party Examiner;

Warning that there are those who want to get rich locking undocumented aliens in private prisons, Sulma Arias, Executive Director, Sunflower Community Action Immigration Reform Update, said Kansas needs to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. She spoke June 13, at the Sedgwick county Democratic Women meeting. About 150 people attended the meeting.
“The debate over comprehensive immigration reform is more than just boarders,” Arias said. “It involves mothers, fathers and children. One-hundred-fifty years from now will children be putting their hands through a fence to touch their mothers?”
Arias came from El Salvador in 1982. She is the mother of three and has been involved with SUNFLOWER for 13 years and has been active at one time or another in at least 10 different states.
“When I came here I wanted to contribute to this country and I learned English,” Arias said.
One item she brought up was that there are Federal contracts for $billions in private prisons.
“We continue to criminalize certain people for the sake of the prison industry,” Arias pointed out. ‘Racism is profiteering. They lock a lot of people up and some people want to profit from that.”
She discussed the controversial law they have In Arizona, SB 1070. Under that law a person can be held and tried for suspicion of being an undocumented alien. ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has supported this. There is big profit on detaining immigrants. The border is under control and has been for four years. Arias said they want to put more money into detention. 
Arias pointed out that there has been a lot of positive change in Kansas. She was involved in the state wide campaign to change driver’s license laws, to allow undocumented persons to get drivers licenses. She said not getting them was causing people all kinds of problems, from not being able to pick their children up from school, to not being able to get legal documents. 
“Kansas was one of the first state to debate the instate tuition bill, “Arias said.
That bill would allow tuition for undocumented immigrants who have lived in this state for many years.
Arias warned the crowd that immigrants can’t do it alone.
“We have to think bigger than just winning on immigration,” she added. “There are other problems in this state such as jobs, work, justice and dignity of workers. If an immigrant lacks work for three years they can be deported.”
She expressed an interest in meeting with people to develop ideas on ideal communities.
“These are my values of bringing people in from across the state to what kind of governance Kansas people want,” Arias said.
During a question and answer period, Arias was asked about getting asylum.
“The asylum process is very expensive,” she told them. “So is getting legal documentation. The whole process can average $10,000, depending on the layer and the circumstances.”
Arias chose a good time to speak on this subject, since Sunflower Community Action and other groups have been pressuring the Kansas legislators to fix the present immigrant laws. There have been several groups of people traveling to Topeka to press our leaders for immigrant law changes.

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s mugshot of the day.


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