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Immigration reform group, NOVA Presente, launches in Loudoun

While immigration reform was a politically-charged topic over the summer, attention in Washington has shifted to the current government shutdown, the national budget fight and the Affordable Care Act. Photo Courtesy/Michael Eicher
Led by a Loudoun-based immigration reform group, hundreds of local reform advocates, many of them undocumented residents, turned out for separate grassroots rallies earlier this month.

Helping orchestrate the marches was NOVA Presente, a new organization “dedicated to empowering the immigrant community in Northern Virginia,” according to lead organizers Noah Feldman and Giordano Hardy-Gerena.

NOVA Presente is believed to be the first immigration reform group rooted in Loudoun County. More than 350 activists gathered for the organization's first call to action in Sterling Oct. 5. Three days later, the group helped bus more than 100 locals to a rally in D.C. that drew a crowd of several thousand.

While NOVA Presente is still in its infancy, Feldman said there's fiery demand for the group in Loudoun and Northern Virginia.

“Speaking with many folks in the community, including public school officials, law enforcement, faith leaders and community leaders, it became apparent how much interest there was for an organization tailored towards the needs of the growing immigrant community,” Feldman told the Times-Mirror Oct. 11.

Feldman said he's been working in recent weeks to find office space, raise money and construct a well-honed mission statement.

Explaining NOVA Presente's objective, co-founder Hardy-Gerena noted: “Currently we are focused on getting a comprehensive immigration reform that allows undocumented immigrants a chance for an opportunity to advance themselves and their families in this country. However, we see ourselves as trying to create a climate and a culture of participation that goes beyond the push for immigration reform. Our main objective is to empower members of the immigrant community to take more agency in the issues that impact their lives … ”

While immigration reform was a politically-charged topic over the summer, attention in Washington has shifted to the current government shutdown, the federal budget fight and the Affordable Care Act.

In June, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill that includes a 13-year process for citizenship for people in the country illegally, heightened border security and an increase in work visas for foreigners interested in living and working here. Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives, however, followed by saying their chamber won't take up the Senate's bill. Instead, members of the House said they would craft their own reform measure.

“It's frustrating,” Feldman said, “to see political bickering get in the way of realistic solutions for people living in our country, raising kids here, paying taxes and working hard to support this nation's growth. Immigrants have helped grow this region, regardless of how they came to this country.”

More than 350 activists gathered for the group's first rally in Sterling Oct. 5. Three days later, the organization helped bus more than 100 locals to a rally in D.C. that drew a crowd of several thousand. Photo Courtesy/Michael Eicher

Opponents of the current immigration proposal believe the legislation will be a detriment to American workers and infringe on the success of immigrants already here legally.

“Everything about the rallies is aimed at creating open borders with gigantic future flows of foreign workers that will further depress U.S. wages and force more Americans to become dependent upon the government,” Roy Beck, founder and president of the Arlington-based NumbersUSA, an immigration-reduction organization, notes on the group's website.

“All American workers suffer under current uncontrolled immigration policies and would suffer much more if the sponsors of the rallies get their 'comprehensive immigration reform' that would give lifetime work permits to at least 11 million illegal aliens and around 20 million new legal immigrants over the next 10 years,” Beck adds.

Whether Congress takes up immigration later this year, or whether the conversation gets pushed back another year, Feldman firmly believes there's a market for NOVA Presente in Loudoun County, where the Hispanic and Latino population is more than 12 percent, roughly the same as the national rate.

Feldman, touching on the sense he gets from the undocumented people he's worked with through his activism, said: “More than frustration, I feel the disappointment of people in the community who were so sure that something would pass and now just are not sure or have lost some hope. It is disappointing especially because it seems so many Americans believe that it is a common sense solution to the current reality of our country.”

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First off border’s need secure or we’ll have another 11 million + in a few years. Next, I’d charge them a $50K fee for being here illegally. Next, they have to learn english. And for corportations hiring H1Bs it should be $100K. I’m still wondering where all 11 million will work? Does this mean more US citizens will be pushed out of work???

Nevarez, we already have “a road map to citizenship,” but it’s not being followed.  There is no other country in the world that rewards illegal immigrants with rights equal to or greater than those of its citizens.  Why do liberals seem to think we should?

Our LEGAL immigration system isn’t broken.  Millions and millions of legal immigrants work the system and some eventually become citizens.  I’m talking about the illegals who, for some reason, don’t want to follow our laws and now want amnesty.

Al Nevarez, your points are valid if we are talking about LEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Let me know when you find some at these rallies.

America is a nation of values, founded on an idea - that all men and women are created equal. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all people have rights, no matter what they look like or where they came from. So how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us as Americans. We believe that families should stick together, that we should look out for each other, and that hard work should be rewarded. It’s not about what you look like or where you were born that makes you American - it’s how you live your life and what you do that defines you here in this country. That’s why all Americans who love this country very much deserve a common sense immigration process, one that includes a roadmap for people who aspire to be citizens.

Everyone agrees that the current patchwork of policies and programs is mismanaged and broken, and it breaks up families. For those currently striving for citizenship, the current maze of regulations provides no light at the end of the tunnel, because there’s often no line to get into for becoming a fully participating American. For aspiring citizens, the essential rights of citizenship should be attainable by taking a test of our history and government, paying an appropriate fee, and pledging allegiance to our country. People move their families here to the land of freedom and opportunity, in order to provide a better life for their children and contribute to our culture in this country. In order to do our part to welcome newcomers, we need to create a common sense immigration process that recognizes the hardships and contributions of people moving here, keeps families together here in this country, and creates a roadmap to citizenship for New Americans who aspire to be citizens.

This is sheer lunacy!! The gall of this “organization” to suggest there’s a “market” for their presence in Loudoun!!  Is there anyone so naive to think that the 12% population cited is anything but illegal aliens?!?  Talk about in-your-face audacity!  Who are these criminals to DEMAND anything?!?  Arrest them, deport them, and then they can start the process LEGALLY!!  I am so sick of these bleeding-heart liberals, who think everyone is owed something!!

What is wrong with following the United States’ legal immigration laws?  Millions and millions of immigrants have done so successfully.

New idea, hire 1000 agents to go around and capture all the illegals. Go into businesses that pay under the table and hire the illegals. The US is easily losing $100s of millions/year on companies that pay under the table(no income tax on employee or employer). But our corrupt govt won’t do anything.

Nothing wrong with immigration ... legal immigration, that is.

“empowering the immigrant community”?  You mean Illegal Aliens, that need to be arrested and deported.

We have 15/million AMERICANS unemployed. We don’t need 15/million Illegal Aliens jumping in the Help Wanted line taking jobs from Blue Blooded Americans.

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