PHILADELPHIA, June 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr., president and founder of Esperanza, the nation's premier Hispanic faith-based organization, today praised the passage of a landmark immigration bill by the U.S. Senate on a 68-32 vote.
Rev. Cortes said, "This is a day of celebration. I'm proud that the U.S. Senate came together to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Our immigration system has been broken for far too long, and the bill, though not perfect, allows the undocumented to become right with the law and be free from the limbo and fear of living in the shadows. The Senate has taken us one important step closer to the solution we need in this country."
"I'm pleased that this bill takes important steps towards meeting the future workforce needs of America's vibrant 21st century economy. I urge the House to follow suit and vote to pass this bill," said Cortes, who represents a national network of over 13,000 Hispanic clergy, faith leaders, congregations and community non-profits.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the legislation, known as the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" (S. 744), "one of the most significant pieces of legislation that the [U.S. Senate] has passed in a very long time."
Passage of the bill comes on the heels of last week's Esperanza's 2013 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference, held from June 18-20, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Said Rev. Cortes: "On the second day of the conference, over 300 clergy and community leaders from Esperanza's network – representing 30 states – held nearly 100 meetings with Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. We are optimistic, given the victory in the Senate, but we realize that there is still a difficult process ahead of us in the House of Representatives. We now look to the members of the House to continue what the Senate has begun, and ensure that this forward progress keeps moving forward."
Speakers during the three-day conference included: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden; House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX); U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA), House Republican Conference Chairwoman; Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee; U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and others.
Rev. Cortes has participated on the immigration and general Hispanic advisory committees to both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. As president of Esperanza, Cortes has provided testimony on three occasions at U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committee hearings on the topic of immigration reform. Learn more about Esperanza at www.esperanza.us.