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Democratic Club of the Islands to discuss immigration reform

By Staff | Apr 12, 2010

On Thursday, April 15 at the Sanibel Public Library, the Democratic Club of the Islands is honored to bring Melinda Paniagua Riddle to speak at its monthly meeting, bringing her unique perspective to an Immigration Reform discussion. Her lecture will begin at 7 p.m.

Now an attorney practicing with a general civil law practice, concentrating on probate/guardianship matters and Family Law in Naples, Melinda Riddle is of Mexican heritage, and the daughter of migrant farm workers. She began working in the cotton fields at age 6, and grew up in migrant worker camps as her folks followed the crops across the Middle West.

Melinda was able to stop working in the fields when she was in the ninth grade. She is prime example of the enormous benefits of one of our most successful legislative programs, the GI Bill, as she was able to finance her education at Indiana University (B.A., 1981) and Indiana University Law School (J.D., 1984) by virtue of her Army service.

President Barack Obama, cognizant of the political clout of the Latino vote, is expected to fulfill a campaign promise to put immigration reform on the front burner, after the economic crisis, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and healthcare reform dominated the first 15 months of the President’s attention. Job creation, financial regulatory legislation, deficit reduction, education reform, climate change, and energy production/usage will be vying to be addressed immediately.

Even with all that, the President has promised to seek that elusive bipartisan consensus for a comprehensive bill to fix what he has called a “broken immigration system,” citing the problems with today’s immigration system that produces families being torn apart, employers gaming the system and police officers struggling to keep communities safe.

As Riddle’s life story so poignantly sets up as a counterpoint, the US ends up with thousands of our best and brightest students, brought to this country as small children, with limited access to higher education and legal employment.

Noting that President Obama won 67 percent of Latino voters and carried states he could not have won without their ballots, including Nevada, New Mexico and most importantly, Florida, Riddle has spoken of the economic, political and moral imperative to reform the immigration system, as we are less secure because millions of people are living in the shadows with illegal immigrants laboring in an underground economy, essential to our workforce, but vulnerable to exploitation.

The Club will provide information to assist those attending to make their views on immigration reform known to our elected representatives.

All are welcome Democratic Club members, other Democrats wherever registered, Blue Dogs Democrats and Progressive Democrats as well as independents and Republicans (RINOs or otherwise). The Democratic Club of the Islands welcomes all persons of all races, color, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status and national origin.

The Democratic Club of the Islands is an authorized organization of the Lee County Democratic Executive Committee, organized to stimulate interest in political and governmental affairs, to educate the electorate about issues, to further the ideals and principles of the Democratic Party, to support Democratic Party nominees in national, state and local campaigns and to foster good fellowship among Democrats on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.