Rally in Rock Island celebrates and encourages immigration reform

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A group in Rock Island rallying to encourage the progress of immigration reform heard a story that hit close to home.

A gathering of families, faith leaders, and local officials came to Schwiebert Riverfront Park on Saturday, June 29, 2013 for Quad City Interfaith’s Dream for All: Rally for Immigration Reform. As the group celebrated an immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday and encouraged lawmakers to pass fair immigration laws, they heard a story from an Iowa resident who has experienced immigration struggles within his own family.

Saturday’s featured speaker, Pedro Lopez, shared the story of his mother, Consuelo Vega, who was working in Postville, Iowa in 2008 when there was an immigration raid at the Postville Agriprocessors plant. Lopez said his mother faced charges for working illegally and spent about a half a year in prison. In that time, Lopez said, his mother was taken to a facility in Kansas where she had a cell-mate who was a convicted murderer.

“She was treated like a criminal when I just saw her as a really very hard working mother,” said Lopez.

He said his speech was geared toward immigrants entering adulthood.

“We’re in that transitional phase where we want to kind of forge a path for the little kids behind us,” Lopez said.

Margie Mejia-Caraballo, a board member of QC Interfaith and the chair of the immigration committee, said that the economy would boom if the legislation passes. She said it would allow more people to contribute to the economy.

“We want to bring it to the front lines that the immigration bill is still being worked on,” said Mejia-Caraballo. “It is something that’s going to benefit each and every one of us.”

Other speakers at the rally were Mayor of Davenport- Bill Gluba, the City of Rock Island’s Fourth Ward Alderman- Stephen Tollenaer, and Executive Director, Michael Woods from Casa Guanajuato- a group which helped organize the event.

“There’s been steps, yeah, but we still have to keep going,” said Lopez. “The reform isn’t perfect and we all know that. As long as we get a reform and then we can go back and refine it, I would be pleased with that.”

QC Interfaith and Casa Guanajuato partnered with World Relief, QC Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, the Quad City Federation of Labor, the UAW of the Quad Cities, Organizing for Action, Progressive Action for the Common Good, the Diocese of Davenport Social Action Department, Davenport NAACP, Rock Island County Democratic Hispanic Caucus, World Relief, the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the League of United Latin American Citizens for Saturday’s rally.