Omaha-area supporters of a less restrictive and punitive federal immigration policy appear to have settled on themes to sell their perspective.
At a downtown rally Tuesday night, they often returned to the emotional tumult suffered by immigrant parents who are separated from their children. They said current immigration law is anachronistic and reforms would be “common sense.”
The vigil, which drew about 75 people to a plaza outside the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Courthouse, was on the seventh day of Hanukkah.
Several people announced where they had once lived, and the number of years they had been separated from relatives because of immigration law, before lighting a candle on a menorah.
“If we fail to create an accessible pathway to citizenship, a permanent underclass of people will remain, people who have come to know and love the United States as their home,” said Jossy Rogers of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Omaha.
A coalition of groups from political, religious and other corners have held similar vigils outside the offices of Reps. Lee Terry, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith, Nebraska's U.S. House members.
At the Tuesday vigil, several participants said current immigration law is outdated and the process to receive a visa is backlogged.
A spokesman for the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, one of the groups involved in the vigils, said the groups hope that an immigration law will be passed before the end of this year.
The U.S. Senate in June passed a bill that includes a “pathway to citizenship.” It is not clear when the House may begin to review the bill.