Open Letter #90 To President Obama – Immigration Reform Now

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The West Indian American Day Carnival in Brooklyn, which kicks off officially today, draws over a million Caribbean nationals to Brooklyn each September.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Aug. 29, 2014:  Dear Mr. President,

On Labor Day, September 1, 2014, Caribbean immigrants in New York will mark the 47th anniversary of the West Indian American Day Carnival. But most importantly, this year will mark some 414 years since West Indians, first as slaves and then as immigrants, have been in these United States.

We Caribbean immigrants did not simply just get off the boat. Yet, as millions will gather to celebrate the West Indian cultural contribution to the city of New York and the U.S., thousands will continue to live below the radar and wonder, when oh when, will they be able to get their “papers” or immigration relief.

In the West Indian community, getting ‘papers’ or legal immigration status in the U.S is of significance to many. ‘Papers’ means freedom – freedom to travel, work and earn enough to send back to help relatives in lands left behind.

To many, citizenship is important but not as important as obtaining a work permit, social security card, a driver’s license and the highly prized ‘green card’ or permanent residency card, which allows one to travel back and forth and live freely as a legal immigrant.

Many pay thousands to unscrupulous attorneys who promise them help in getting these elusive ‘papers’ once they have arrived here via the ‘backtrack’ or come in on a visitor’s visa and decided to stay on for a better life.

Others turn to the church and their pastors for help, which sadly in many instances, disappoint these desperate immigrants – sometimes with false hope and at other times with the threat of a call to the U.S. Immigration to solicit sexual favors, in the case of scared women.

Still others, anxious for a way out of the underground misery of indenture-ship wages and the inability to visit their homeland, even at the death of a loved one, dole out upwards of US$10,000 to pay greedy U.S. Citizens who promise them marriage for a green card. This often leads to abusive marriage and thievery that leaves the immigrant worst for the wear – physically, financially, mentally and emotionally at times.

While still more pay hundreds to secure fraudulent documents, obtained at times through identity theft and the black market, for a chance to simply live a tad free-er and achieve a glimmer of the so-called American Dream.

Then there are those who spend years waiting on their ‘papers to come through,’ – ose waiting upwards of ten years for employment and family sponsorships to become a reality in the backlogged, low visa system that keeps tens of thousands in red tape and limbo.

Mr. President, August 30th, the deadline set to receive recommendations on how you can proceed with executive action that stays within the laws of the United States is fast approaching. Millions, including in the West Indian American community are desperate for your help. You are really now the last hope, now that congress has failed to act.
Won’t you act now and help secure the thousands being spent in the black market, for the coffers of the United States. Imagine how much more will be paid in taxes and fees to the U.S. Government, versus some scam?

The time is now Mr. President. Let’s get back to work. Immigration help now!

Felicia Persaud

The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands, CaribPR Wire, News Americas Now and Invest Caribbean Now.