Immigration rally underscores reform support

As the conversation regarding comprehensive immigration reform continues to heat up, rallies supporting the initiative are becoming more common. This was the case on Sunday, March 1, 2015, in Apopka, Florida, where Bright House News reports that nearly 300 individuals came out to show their support for President Barack Obama’s recent executive order on immigration. Among the crowd were undocumented immigrants, residents of the Florida town, politicians and advocates of comprehensive immigration reform. The group met at the Hope Community Center in downtown Apopka and held a peaceful rally including speeches and demonstrations of solidarity.

The rally
Located just north of Orlando, Apopka is no stranger to the face of immigration. The small Florida town is said to be more than 25 percent Latino, Bright House News reported, with many of those individuals being undocumented immigrants. The rally, which featured speeches from two U.S. Representatives, was primarily a sounding board for the Latino community to discuss the opinions and concerns on Obama’s executive order. In speaking with a reporter from Fox News, Hugo Chavle indicated that one of the primary benefits of Obama’s executive order is that it would ensure children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents wouldn’t be separated from them.

“It’s not just for the parents or the students,” said Chavle. “It’s for the kids, they need their parents and their father here.”

Chavle was not alone in his sentiments, as Rep. Alan Grayson, D-District 9, explained to the crowd the importance of undocumented immigrants being recognized with the full rights of naturalized citizens.

“They do the work that other people will not do. They should be paying taxes, they should have car insurance when they’re on the road,” said Grayson. “They should be able to call the police when there’s been a crime committed against them.”

Potential DHS Shutdown
The rally comes at a pivotal moment in the immigration reform movement, as the Department of Homeland Security faces potential closure due to Republican efforts to halt Obama’s executive order. DHS, which processes the applications of undocumented immigrants applying for amnesty, is a vital piece of the immigration reform process and cannot afford to operate without its necessary budget.

As the Washington Post has reported, there is a ‘shutdown alert’ in effect at DHS, where there is not yet a clear picture of how long the funding will last. Congress recently approved one more week worth of funding, which should carry DHS through roughly March 9th, 2015, but it remains to be seen what will happen after that. There exists a possibility that Republicans will move to cut off partial funding to homeland security, which would halt the immigration reform movement temporarily but would also jeopardize other security efforts. The Washington Post has also noted that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the branch of DHS that processes immigration paperwork, receives more than 90 percent of its budget from application fees of those filing for naturalization. This cash flow might enable the branch to run even in the event of Republican efforts cutting off funding to DHS.