26/08/09 a 11:19am por Maribel Hastings
(Translated from the original by Lynn Tramonte, America’s Voice)
The liberal “Lion” of the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy, Democratic senator from Massachusetts, died and immigrants are losing, in my opinion, their strongest and sincerest advocate in the U.S. Congress.
Kennedy always defended diverse causes like civil rights, healthcare and education with strength, but in the immigrant community and among groups who defend immigrants, he is remembered with profound gratitude for his constant fight for immigrants’ rights and in recent years, for his intense effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
Kennedy was the author of the reform bills that unfortunately failed to advance in recent years. At that time, I was working as the Washington correspondent for the daily La Opinión, and I saw Kennedy walking the halls of Congress with difficulty, in meeting after interminable meeting, looking for agreement, or in press conferences promoting the subject, or on stage after stage calling on those same immigrants to not give up and lose hope.
In 2006, during the many immigrant marches for reform across the country, Kennedy was the central Congressional figure in the event here in the nation’s capital, with his commanding presence and his booming voice, spouting off phrases in Spanish to tell the immigrants that “Yes we can” (Si se puede).
Then and in 2007 he fought to the end to advance immigration reform, and when he couldn’t, he called activists together to tell them not to lose faith and to plan their next steps. The eternal optimist against adversity, he always looked for the right phrase to motivate the depressed leaders who had the mission of continuing to mobilize the immigrant community and building allies in Congress.
The brain cancer that took his life also impeded his presence in the rancorous health care reform debate that he had long championed.
Those who are working for comprehensive immigration reform have missed the leadership and advice of one of their closest allies these last several months. As we get ready for a hard fight ahead on immigration reform, we know it would be very difficult for someone to replace the irreplaceable. Kennedy was like the conscience of the Senate, of Senate Democrats, of Democrats in general. The hope is that those who remain behind demonstrate at least a fraction of Kennedy’s conscience and compromise, so that we can make immigration reform a reality.
Rest in Peace, Senator Kennedy.
Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor at America’s Voice
To see a short video clip with an image of Senator Kennedy click here
To read this column in Spanish click here