Binghamton community talks immigration

By Steph Machado

April 8, 2013 Updated Apr 8, 2013 at 9:41 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Panelists facilitated a discussion about immigration reform at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton on Sunday.

"It's a human story that hooks our involvement," said the Rev. Douglas Taylor, Minister of UUCB.

One of the three panelists was Andrew Baranoski, director of the American Civic Association.

Baranoski speaks at events all over Broome County to inform voters about immigration reform. He said he wants the community to understand the current laws so they can make informed decisions in the voting booth.

"The current legislation sometimes will break families apart," Baranoski said. "Those are decisions the community needs to make."

According to Baranoski, immigrants are often separated from their spouses and children when they are deported from the U.S.

Rachel Light, a member of the UUCB congregation, was another panelist.

She told the emotional story of a friend who was an undocumented immigrant living in the U.S. for 20 years before his death in 2011.

"I want people to see the face of a really amazing human being," Light said. "It's a human story."

Light says she was the only person who knew her friend was undocumented, aside from the man who brought him into the country.

She says he was indebted to that man for his entire life, constantly in fear of being deported.

Taylor said he hopes the panelists' stories would encourage community members to treat immigrants better and to think critically about possible pathways to citizenship for immigrants living in Broome County.