|32BJ SEIU Plainfield Immigration Reform March|
As the General Election of 2016 looms ever closer, there are several issues which have become focal points of the presidential candidates. One of the most important, in my mind, is that of immigration.
Here in Plainfield, we are a microcosm of the United States of America. We are blessed to have a truly dynamic and diverse community, a blended society reflective of the numerous ethnicities that have made this place their home.
As an immigrant to this great country myself, I understand the challenges faced when trying to integrate into a new culture, however, the opportunities here are myriad for someone who is willing to work hard and be a productive member of the community.
No one should have to “live in the shadows,” so to speak, but that is exactly what approximately 11 million people are doing in our nation. I believe that there should be a common sense approach to immigration and a path to citizenship for those who qualify.
The plan proposed by President Obama under earned citizenship would provide undocumented immigrants with a legal way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. It holds them accountable by requiring that they pass background checks, pay taxes and a penalty, go to the back of the line, and learn English. It requires everyone to play by the same rules.
Under the “Deporting Felons, Not Families” proposal, the president’s actions focus on the deportation of people who threaten national security and public safety. The focus is on anyone suspected of terrorism, on violent criminals, and on gang members.
I fully support President Obama’s stance on these proposals because it gives a fair chance to any honest immigrant wanting to find a legal way forward, and also puts the focus of deportation where it is most needed—on those who come here with no intention of upholding the law.
The majority of immigrants come here because they want a better life for themselves and their families. I was one of those immigrants many years ago, and it wasn’t always easy. I came from humble beginnings and a fractured family, but I had the fire of ambition lit in my breast and I believed I could fan its flames here. I persevered for a better education by attending numerous tertiary institutions, beginning with Union County College, which has a campus right here in Plainfield, and I worked always toward the goal of having a fulfilling community role along with being able to provide a stable life for my family. I also felt the need to give back in some way to the country which had embraced me, and this need pushed me toward public service.
Today, I am the Mayor of Plainfield because there existed a common sense approach and path to immigration at that time. I am Mayor because I grasped with both hands the opportunities presented by this country; I am Mayor because America allowed me to grow and flourish. I am Mayor because there existed a belief that immigrants who came here and worked hard had something of value to contribute to the success of America.
I still believe this to be true and I want to ensure that every immigrant here in Plainfield is afforded the same opportunities that I was able to take advantage of: a path to legal immigration, a chance to further his or her education, and a chance to raise a family and contribute in a meaningful way to our community.
“We didn't raise the Statue of Liberty with her back to the world, we did it with her light shining as a beacon to the world. And whether we were Irish or Italians or Germans crossing the Atlantic, or Japanese or Chinese crossing the Pacific; whether we crossed the Rio Grande or flew here from all over the world - generations of immigrants have made this country into what it is. It’s what makes us special.”—President Barack Obama November 14, 2014
Plainfield we are special, we are that wonderful mixture of cultures from near and far, a smorgasbord of ethnicities, a community of diverse humanity, and this is something we should embrace and celebrate. I will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of every resident—natural born or immigrant—because this coming together is truly the fabric that America is made of.
Creating One Plainfield - One Future,
Mayor Adrian O. Mapp
City of Plainfield