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[Congressional Record: October 2, 2003 (Extensions)]
[Page E1966]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []



                       HON. LUCILLE ROYBAL-ALLARD

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, October 2, 2003

  Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House 
Resolution 384 that celebrates the successful journey of the Immigrant 
Workers Freedom Ride.
   Inspired by the Freedom Riders of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement, 
a broad coalition of individuals including immigrants, union officials, 
religious leaders, and civil rights activists set out on September 20, 
2003 from ten major U.S. cities to educate the public and elected 
officials about immigrant rights and the injustices of our country's 
current immigration policies. Over the last 12 days, 900 freedom riders 
in 18 buses have visited more than 100 cities, towns, and work places.
  The freedom riders have educated communities across America about the 
hardships faced day after day by immigrant workers and their families. 
Immigrants work in every industry in America. They are construction 
workers, doctors, nurses, janitors, meat packers, farmworkers, 
engineers, and soldiers. They care for our children, tend to our 
elderly, pick and serve our food, build and clean our houses, and what 
they ask for in return is a fair and equal opportunity to achieve the 
American dream. Yet, our broken immigration system impedes many because 
they are unable to live and work freely. Far too many immigrants are 
exploited by their employers, separated from family, and unprotected by 
our laws. The Immigrant Workers Freedom Riders have renewed the spirit 
of the Civil Rights Movement in order to draw attention to the needs of 
this marginalized community.
  But that is not where their effort ends. They have a plan of action--
a solution to many of the hardships encountered by so many immigrants 
in this country. Their plan has four key proposals: a new legalization 
program for undocumented immigrants; the right of immigrants to reunite 
with their families; the protection of immigrants in the workplace; and 
civil rights and civil liberties for all.
  To bring their plan to the attention of our national leaders, the 
Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride arrived in Washington, D.C. on October 
1, 2003. I welcome, and congratulate them for embarking on this 
historic journey.
  I particularly want to acknowledge the two buses of freedom riders 
from Los Angeles. Several of the participants are my constituents who 
have taken time from their jobs and left their families and children 
behind in order to make the long journey to Washington, D.C.
  I met with a group of them on Thursday, October 2. What they told me 
was truly inspiring. Some have been in this country for several years 
while others have only recently arrived, but they all have a love and 
appreciation for America. They don't want or expect handouts. They 
believe in hard work and doing their part for our country. What they do 
want, Mr. Speaker, is what we all want--the opportunity to prosper and 
to obtain a good life for themselves and their families. They want to 
be full participants in every aspect of our society.

  I applaud the Immigrant Workers Freedom Riders and commend the 
organizers for helping to ensure that immigrant voices are heard. I am 
encouraged by the support they have garnered across the country, and I 
hope that their tour will serve as a catalyst for fair and meaningful 
reform of our nation's immigration laws. Our immigrant community 
deserves greater protections under the law, and Congress has an 
obligation to provide it.
  In the words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: ``Let us therefore 
continue our triumphal march to the realization of the American dream . 
. .''
  In keeping with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, we are reminded 
today that the struggle for civil rights continues for many. The 
Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride is a renewal of a struggle for fairness 
and equality for all. I am hopeful that my colleagues and all of 
America will embrace it.