GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - Amidst a government shutdown people are advocating a new immigration reform bill. Supporters for immigration reform rallied in over 150 cities Saturday calling for ‘dignity and respect' in immigration laws. For North Carolina, people in Greenville, Wilmington, Durham, and Charlotte participated in the event.
NewsChannel12 went to the rally in Greenville today at the A.M.E.X.C.A.N Community Center on Belvoir Hwy. off of North Memorial Drive.
Executive Director for the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina Juvencio Rocha-Peralta said it's time to pass new immigration reform laws.
"Over thirty states are coming together telling Congress that we need to stop having the discussion of immigration reform," Peralta said.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday unveiled a new immigration reform bill. The new immigration bill would allow a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
"We believe the government shut down right now is not an excuse not to continue to have this discussion of immigration reform," Peralta said.
Greenville N.A.A.C.P. President Calvin Henderson said everyone should be treated equally.
"This issue should not be about Republicans or Democrats. This issue should be about people," Henderson said.
A victim of human trafficking in the U.S., Eba Sanchez, spoke at the rally.
Sanchez first came to the U.S. on an invitation to a college master's program. When she landed in the U.S., she said the people who invited her to the college program kidnapped her and five other women. Sanchez said she was held captive for two months. She said she is the only survivor. Sanchez is a victim of physical and emotional abuse as well as sexual assault.
As a result, Sanchez said she has post-traumatic stress disorder. With her disorder, Sanchez said she relied on her husband's emotional support -until he was recently deported.
However, her approved visa application in 2006 had a clause that could have kept her husband and two daughters in the United States. She said a language barrier kept her from knowing these benefits. The approved visa application said family members could also apply for non-immigrant classification.
"All of the different ethnic groups should be taken into account, all the different languages. With a lack of understanding [of] the English language… the law becomes unfair," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said cases like these happen frequently and new laws should be put in place to help.