Immigration Coalition Confronts Sanford - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Immigration Coalition Confronts Sanford on Voting Against Their Goal to Citizenship

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The Lowcountry Immigration Coalition packed the Holy Family Catholic Church with nearly 500 people, in a town hall meeting where the guest of honor was Congressman Mark Sanford.

Note cards were passed around and questions handed in, all in order to confront the crowd's congressman on his opposition to an immigration reform bill.

Eric Esquivel says he was on board with the bill's points to fine those in the United States illegally, or who are overstaying a visa, give written and verbal English tests immigrants must pass, have them pay back taxes, and therefore create a pathway to citizenship in 13 years.

Then, Esquivel had some questions for his congressman.

"How well does he know the growing Latino community in the Lowcountry?" he asked.

As Sanford took a seat among children bearing various flags to symbolize their country of origin, Esquivel remarked that the Latino population is steadily growing in the surrounding communities.

His next question, "Why does he not support immigration reform?" he says was hardly answered.  

"I think that my vote cast reflected the majority of where people are coming from in the first district," Sanford says.

Though it did not seen to be the majority of what the crowd took a stand for on Sunday afternoon.

Audience members stood and read questions and statements they wrote on note cards for Sanford.

One teacher pleaded with him to remember the children that immigration reform will impact.

"As a teacher in the Beaufort County School District, I have seen the impact of current immigration policy on children," Beth McCafferty wrote. "Please consider these young Americans of immigrant families, for they are out country's future teachers, firemen, police, and leaders."

McCafferty thanked the Congressman from coming to listen. She cited an example of a young student she says was withdrawn from school, and moved back across the border when her father was deported, following a traffic citation.

In the end, "There will be a number of issues that we agree on, and I suspect as well that we do not," Sanford said.

Esquivel says the reason behind Sanford's opposition to reform is still unclear to the coalition, but the town hall was a starting point in communication.  

"We on the side of immigration reform say anything works, we need to solve the problem, we need to be realistic and bring good people out of the shadows," he says.

He plans to continue to fight to create a clearer pathway to citizenship for the immigrants he calls vital to the Lowcountry.  

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