NAMPA, Idaho — A local nonprofit is advocating for immigration reform through a new campaign, calling on Idaho leaders to support legislation that could provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented individuals living in the U.S.
“A lot of our communities have been calling out for relief, especially since the majority of workers in the COVID-19 pandemic were immigrants workers. That tell us immigration reform is a relief,” said Estefania Mondragon, Executive Director for Poder of Idaho.
On Thursday, the nonprofit held a press conference at the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho in Nampa to launch “No Recess Without Relief” in partnership with other immigrant rights groups.
Mondragon said because a majority of the state lawmakers are Republican, they hope to encourage them to be 'leaders’ for immigration reform.
“To act boldly, especially as election times come, and stand with us because we are here to partner with you all and create just immigration reform that is all good for Americans, not just immigrants,” Mondragon said.
According to the American Immigration Council, more than 18,000 thousand immigrants in Idaho were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
“Immigration policy affects everybody. In this state, we have at least 60,000 people, these are based on 2018 numbers, 60,000 people that in Idaho that live in a household with at least one undocumented person. Of that number, half are U.S. citizens. Of that number, 23,000 are children,” said Maria Andrade, Executive Director of Immigrant Justice Idaho.
Other speakers at the press conference included:
- Humberto Fuentes, Executive Director of the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho
- Jessica Betancourt-Medina, Idaho Immigration Campaign Coordinator, United Farm Workers (UFW)
- Raquel Reyes, Board member of Poder of Idaho
IDAHO LAWMAKER'S RESPONSE
Idaho’s Speaker of the House, Rep. Scott Bedke, said there has to be an agreement between Democrats and Republicans at the federal level for immigration reform.
“Everyone knows that this is a difficult issue and that there are hard positions in both sides of the spectrum. They've got to come up with some type of compromise that meets in the middle and that’s the good old fashion American way," Rep. Bedke said. “The hard positions, either on the left or in the right here, politically here are not going to carry the day everyone recognizes there’s a problem everyone wants an organized lawful process. We want secure borders."
Representative Lauren Necochea also believes Congress must come up with a solution.
“This is aligned with our values, welcoming people, and it will also help build an economy that we can all move forward together,” Necochea said.
In March, Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson was a part of the bipartisan group that re-introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act that could provide a path for undocumented farmworkers to earn legal status. The proposed bill would also give year-round access to dairy employers to recruit H2A workers.
In March 10 press release, Rick Naerebout, Chief Executive Officer of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association said the dairy industry heavily relies on the foreign-born workforce.