Senator John Kerry today released the following statement praising Massachusetts activists who are heading to Washington, D.C. to rally in favor of fair and comprehensive immigration reform. The activists are leaving from Boston tonight for Sunday's rally.
"I want to thank all of you for being here today, for boarding these buses and for traveling down to Washington so your voices can be heard as Congress tries once again to fix our immigration laws. You are another shining example of what has happened throughout our history - Americans taking to the streets to rally the country against racial inequality, social injustice or war and to show Congress the way.
"Your cause -- fair and comprehensive immigration reform -- is no less important than those historic struggles because we are a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws and how we reconcile these two principles is crucial in determining what kind of nation we hope to be.
"Twice before we have tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform and twice before we have seen fear, misinformation and even hatred rule the day. But with a new president in the White House and a new comprehensive approach, we have a rare opportunity to get it right, finally.
"Successful reform requires four cornerstones -- strengthening our borders, providing a path to legalization, creating an effective guest worker program with adjusted visa caps and strong labor protections and setting up a reliable employment verification program.
We need to stop amnesty from being used as a dirty word and start talking straight about how to figure out who is actually in the United States, to bring people out of the shadows and to create a fair and effective way for people who have lived, worked and contributed to the American to finally become Americans.
"That way, we can fix the systematic failures that have torn families apart, divided communities and caused upstanding people to fear for their lives. Tragically, we have seen all that happen in New Bedford, and that is why I will continue to push my fellow Senators to include my Families First proposal in our reforms -- so that enforcement of our immigration laws will be done in a humane way. We will not allow families to be ripped apart, toddlers left home alone and sick and pregnant women shackled ever again. I do not want to see even one more of our communities go through such a heartbreaking and soul-wrenching tragedy. That is not the New Bedford we know. That is not Massachusetts we live in. That is not the America we love.
"I am proud that the voices of Massachusetts' immigrant community will be heard back in Washington. You have contributed so much to making our state and our nation more vibrant and economically dynamic, and you deserve more than the empty rhetoric and impractical calls for mass deportation we see from opponents of comprehensive immigration reform.
"You deserve the same kind of commitment you saw from Senator Kennedy when he was leading this fight. And you're going to get it. As a tribute to him, we need to finally get this done."