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Congresswoman welcomes Obama’s position on immigration reform

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 | 9:53 AM    

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NEW YORK (CMC) -- Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke has commended United States President Barack Obama for addressing comprehensive immigration reform in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night. 

During his address, Obama urged the US Congress to enact immigration reform that will allow the more than 10 million immigrants without legal status, including Caribbean nationals, to apply for temporary legal status and, eventually, United States citizenship.

“A policy of comprehensive immigration reform will also support our economy by preventing the exploitation of workers who lack legal status despite, in some instances, living in the United States for almost their entire lives,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York. 

“With legal status and an opportunity for citizenship, these workers will finally have the ability to benefit from the rights guaranteed to American labourers, and thus become full participants in our civil society,” she told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

Ahead of his State of the Union address, Clarke had written to Obama for second time urging him stop deporting Caribbean and other immigrants. 

Clarke, along with Arizona Congressman Raúl M Grijalva, appealed to the president to “respond to the crisis of deportation in the undocumented community.

“As your administration nears an astounding two million deportations, we write again to reiterate our initial request and inquire into additional steps the White House can take to provide relief to the millions of ‘Americans in Waiting’ , who live and work among us,” they wrote.

Clarke also told CMC that the continued deportation of Caribbean immigrants who lack legal status had resulted in many families being separated.

“This policy must end,” she stressed, adding that, with the US Congress currently debating immigration reform, “the practice of continued deportation risks the very men and women who will have the ability to apply for permanent legal status and citizenship under a new system of immigration”.

Grenadian American New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams also lauded Obama’s address, noting that he outlined a “bold, progressive agenda”.

Williams, who represents the largely Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said that the agenda “re-focuses the nation's attention on the need to end income inequality and to ensure increased opportunities for every American, including those who struggle to find work, those who came to the United States in search of a better life, and those who have not reaped the benefits in an economy that continues to leave many behind.

“Many of the ideas outlined in the speech, from extending unemployment benefits, increasing the minimum wage for those working for federal contractors, to ending wage discrimination against women, would benefit the constituents of the 45th Council District that I represent,” said Williams, chair of New York City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings. 

“And, as the son of Grenadian immigrants, and as someone who represents one of the most diverse districts in the city of New York, I am pleased that the administration will push for the right to a high quality education from preschool through college for all, regardless of where one is born,” he added.

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