Editor: I am an Immigrant Rights Fellow at the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium. NAKASEC’s mission is to organize Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social, racial and economic justice. I was one of the 30 “protestors” outside of the Congregation Sha’are Shalom Synagogue in Leesburg last week preaching a message of love and holding signs that says “VA is Home,” no matter where you are from and regardless of immigration status.
The last sentence in the article about the program described the people who stood in “protest” outside of the synagogue as “opposing U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock.” Let me be clear: Rep. Comstock’s legislative record stands in stark contrast to the message of the event at the synagogue about loving your neighbor. In fact, when it comes to immigrant communities, where is the love?
Rep. Comstock sponsored H.R. 3697, which makes it easier to hurt immigrant communities by widening the net of who could be deported. For example, immigrants coming to the United States can be sent back if an ICE agent has “reason to believe” the person might be associated with a gang. What does that even mean? The bill also allows expands what kind of organizations could be labeled a “criminal gang,” including a church that provides sanctuary to immigrants. In reality it is unclear how the bill would effectively fight gangs. Also, Rep. Comstock has never co-sponsored the DREAM Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for young people like me.
I came to the United States when I was 7 years old and grew up in Virginia. I have lived in Springfield, most of my life and learned that diversity is what makes the commonwealth of Virginia and the United States a great place where people should feel welcomed. Growing up, I had a diverse group of friends including Latinx, Muslim, Hindu, Black, and Asian American. Diversity and celebrations of different cultures and heritages made the Springfield area such an attractive place. Our school was a strong community of people who supported each other, regardless of where you came from.
The motto for our commonwealth is “Virginia is for Lovers.” Rep. Comstock wants to promote love but continues to vilify and advocate against immigrant communities.
In conclusion, if Rep Comstock wants to promote love and if she cares about all of her constituents, she should support measures that help, not harm, the immigrant community such as the DREAM Act, and advocate for citizenship for all.
Jung Bin Cho, Annandale