Published: Friday, June 18, 2010 3:18 PM EDT
WASHINGTON, June 14 - As battle lines are drawn over immigration reform, the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS), a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) education and advocacy organization, is urging Caribbean Americans to descend on the halls of Congress on June 24 for its Caribbean American Legislative Forum.
Concerned by legislative measures taken in Arizona and pending in other localities, and feeling shut out of the immigration debate, the group is heading to Congress with their own legislative agenda.
The Forum is being held during the national Caribbean American Heritage Month. ICS has joined forces with Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH) and the Association of Small Churches, whose members will be in attendance.
“With draconian measures being taken in Arizona and similar laws underway in other states, Caribbean Americans must ensure that our voices are heard by those in legislative power,” said Dr. Claire A. Nelson, the founder and president of ICS, which spearheaded the national celebration.
The Forum will bring together Caribbean Americans, public and private sector leaders and experts to formulate an action plan and legislative agenda surrounding trade and economic development, the green economy, health reform, immigration and the census. (A U.S. Census national profile partner, ICS is also working to encourage Caribbean Americans to be counted.)
Following the session, attendees will fan out throughout the halls of Congress, meeting with their representatives. The group will remind legislators of the significant contributions that Caribbean Americans, like founding father Alexander Hamilton, Colin Powell, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Wyclef Jean, W.E.B. DuBois and Shirley Chisholm, have made to the nation.
They will call for an increase in the number of temporary visas issued so that more Caribbean workers can have equal access to temporary jobs in the U.S.; a reduction in the current immigration services backlog; the establishment of a pathway to citizenship or lawful residency status for the undocumented; and a humane approach to deportation that ensures the security of the Caribbean region.
About Caribbean American Heritage Month:
In June 2006, following a campaign by the Institute of Caribbean Studies and passage of a bill by the U.S. Congress,Caribbean American Heritage Month was designated as June by then-President George W. Bush.
During the month, the significant contributions of Caribbean Americans and the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and Caribbean countries are highlighted.
Around the country the month is being marked with celebrations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Charleston, SC, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and Washington D.C.