Cutler Park vigil calls for immigration changes
Church group part of national effort to address
issue on Obama’s first working day
By Katherine Michalets
– The candles held by people gathered Wednesday evening for a prayer
vigil for comprehensive immigration reform in Cutler Park
helped to illuminate their signs as they sang hymns, read prayers and spoke
about immigration issues.
The prayer vigil was sponsored by SOPHIA,
a coalition of Waukesha
congregations and organizations, but it was also part of a national effort to
raise awareness about immigration reform the day after President Barack Obama
took office. Waukesha’s
prayer vigil was attended by about three dozen people, some holding signs that
read “Immigrants are people!” “Keep families united”
and “We are a nation of immigrants.”
whose wife Betty is SOPHIA’s president, said the organization would like
to see the law changed so people don’t need to have a Social Security
number in order to get a driver’s license. He said if illegal immigrants
would be able to obtain their driver’s license, they could get car
insurance and would make the roads safer.
For Ralph Schultz,
a retired minister and a member of SOPHIA, having immigrants treated like human
beings is the most important thing.
Groenewold said that SOPHIA feels the economy and the war in Iraq
might become Obama’s biggest priorities now that he is in office, and
they wanted to encourage him to still create dialogue about immigration reform.
Groenewold and Schultz also spoke of creating a pathway to citizenship for
illegal immigrants and the effects on families being separated as members come
to the United States from Mexico
to look for jobs.
“He mentioned caring about
each other and helping each other, which could relate to immigration,”
Schultz said, referring to Obama’s inauguration
Groenewold said trade agreements the United States has with other countries
allow for the free flow of goods, so why can’t that apply to people, too.
“Why can’t we have the same thing? If there
aren’t jobs, they aren’t going to come,” he said.
John Vinson, the president of American Immigration Control in
has a different perspective. He said American Immigration Control wants the U.S.
government to enforce existing laws and for people who immigrate here to obey
“The level of immigration should be cut back,”
He said his organization is not
anti-immigration, but it promotes immigration moderation. Vinson said Obama
marched with illegal immigrants while he campaigned.
“His (form) of immigrant reform is to legalize all the
people who live here illegally,” Vinson said of Obama.
Illegal immigrants are also vying for the same jobs as legal
American residents, Vinson said.
“They’re competing with Americans who want jobs
just to be able to put food on the table,” he said.
Bryon S. Houlgrave/Freeman Staff
Javier O. Cervera of Milwaukee, a loan
coordinator for La Casa de Esperanza’s Ways to Work program, holds a sign
Wednesday as traffic passes Cutler Park in Waukesha.