April 03, 2013

SENATOR MAZIE K. HIRONO DISCUSSES IMMIGRATION REFORMS' POTENTIAL IMPACTS ON HAWAII AT ROUNDTABLE WITH LOCAL IMMIGRATION ADVOCATES, ACTIVISTS AND PROFESSIONALS

Hirono Briefed Group On Status Of Immigration Reform Negotiations In Washington, Listened To Local Importance Of Family Unity In Immigration System

Honolulu – Senator Mazie K. Hirono hosted a roundtable discussion with community leaders about how comprehensive immigration reform could impact Hawaii. Among the 20 attendees included immigration law specialists, children’s advocates, philanthropic organizations and immigration justice activists. The meeting was the first of a series of events this week where Hirono will discuss how her work in the Senate impacts Hawaii residents.

“After listening to these local immigration experts, I was struck by their stories of how central families are to an immigrant’s success,” Hirono remarked after the event. “These professionals and activists serve on the front lines of the issue in Hawaii, helping immigrants wade through the bureaucratic red tape and see firsthand the challenges our immigration system poses for families.”

At the meeting, Hirono listened as participants spoke of their own daily experiences dealing with the immigration system and discussed ways immigration reform could make their jobs easier.

“What I thought was so great about today is how many different voices from the community were here -- the people from Micronesia, people with medical issues related to immigration, the immigration services community,” participant John Robert Egan, a Honolulu immigration attorney, remarked after the event. “It’s so great to get so many voices around the table and have a free interchange with the Senator.”

Participants also spoke up on how important Hirono’s fight for the family immigration system is as the Senate takes up immigration legislation in the coming weeks.

“Senator Hirono showed understanding of the community’s needs and where we are in terms of advocating for the issues. Hopefully, she will be able to get support from the other senators because this really means so much, not only for Hawaii, but for the rest of the country,” remarked participant Melba Bantay, Program Director for Immigration Services at Catholic Charities Hawaii.

After spending three months in the United States Senate and joining key discussions on national security, economic issues, immigration reform and other matters important to Hawaii, Senator Hirono is meeting with Hawaii residents this week to discuss how her work in the Senate impacts them.