Cleveland Network Fights for Immigration Rights

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Members of the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network rallied at Market Square in Cleveland Saturday, hoping that their message on immigration rights is heard all the way to Washington.

They said the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is too restrictive.

"The actual name of this bill should be the border militization, national ID, corporate and prison subsidy and family separation act,” said Don Bryant, of the Greater Cleveland Immigration Support Network.

The group wants to see more equitable immigration reform and legislation that is more welcoming to immigrants.

Elisa Bredendiek emigrated from Germany eight years ago and now assists with programs at the GCISN.

"We were hoping to get a more inclusive reform that would get the path to citizenship quicker and easier. There are still a lot of fees involved, a lot of waiting,” Bredendiek said.

The group said immigration reform is not only a social justice issue but an issue critical to economically dying cities. Richard Herman, Immigration Attorney and Co-Author of "Immigration INC.," said Americans should not fear, but welcome immigrants who could make Northeast Ohio more sustainable.

"We need to create jobs and small businesses. And, the data supports the notion that new businesses are created increasingly by immigrants and minorities. So, for us to reboot Cleveland’s economy and to re-populate, we need to start welcoming the immigrants and the minority job creator,” Herman said.

Jennifer Lawrence, of Cleveland, said she doesn’t think most Americans are against the idea of immigration.

“I think it's just that the immigrants that are seeking equality -- everybody in America is seeking equality. Everybody wants jobs,” she said.

Herman said Cleveland was built on the backs of immigrant workers, and it could be revitalized with immigrant businesses.

"With cities that are depopulating like Cleveland, we need human capital and families and investors and immigration reform offers that opportunity,” Herman said.