Advocates to rally in Beaufort for immigration reform

rlurye@islandpacket.comSeptember 28, 2013 

SC Governor State Budget

Mark Sanford

MARY ANN CHASTAIN — AP

Members of the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition plan to rally outside Mark Sanford's Beaufort office this week in the hopes of persuading the congressman to meet for a discussion on immigration reform.

The vigil, scheduled for noon Saturday, is one of about 200 rallies slated to take place on the National Day of Dignity and Respect, which supports Congress creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Sanford has said the country's borders must be secured first before he would consider such a plan.

Coalition members want more from the 1st District Republican.

"He's been somewhat wishy-washy," coalition co-chairman Eric Esquivel said.

In June, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that would secure the borders and implement a 13-year wait for citizenship for the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider similar legislation this month.

Jon Kohan, a spokesman for Sanford, said he was unaware of the upcoming rally.

"Given the flux that we are in with regards to funding the government, as well as the debt ceiling, whether (Sanford) is there or not remains to be decided, but we will have staff on hand and look forward to hearing their perspective," he wrote in a prepared statement.

The coalition has tried unsuccessfully to meet with the congressman several times since June, said Esquivel, president and publisher of La Isla magazine. However, the coalition is now tentatively scheduling a meeting in October, according to co-chairman George Kanuck. Kohan declined to confirm the meeting.

Both Esquivel and Kanuck hope Saturday's rally will be a first step toward setting up a subsequent town hall meeting with the county's Hispanic community. At least 30 people are expected to gather at Sanford's office at 903 Port Republic St.

"The congressman says things like, 'What I'm hearing from my constituents is they're not in favor of comprehensive reform,'" Kanuck said. "He needs to look at a larger scheme of things."

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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