Following the murders of 13 people
at an immigrant service center last Friday in Binghamton, N.Y., immigrant
advocates are concerned that the tragedy might give some immigrants
second thoughts about getting the training they need to become productive
citizens and find work. Amy Sugimori, executive director of La Fuente,
says if anything the tragedy points out how important it is that immigrants
have access to as much training as possible, so they can learn the skills
they need to fully integrate into society.
"There were many immigrants there
who were learning English, taking classes, looking forward to becoming
productive United States citizens and we would want to encourage
that work, encourage people to participate in classes and activities
Authorities say 41-year-old Jiverly
Wong (Vong) shot and killed 13 people and wounded four others at the
American Civic Association, then killed himself. Wong had been laid
off and had been taking English classes at the Center. Anger at low
pay, loss of work and failure to learn English were his apparent motives.
Javier Valdes with Make the Road
New York says the killer’s
acts were irrational, but his frustration with learning English does
point to a pressing need.
"In this downturn, learning English
is vital for the immigrant community, so these people are able to provide
for their families."
Interfaith leaders will be calling
for swift action on immigration reform today as Holy Week begins and
Jews prepare to celebrate Passover. Sugimori hopes immigration opponents
will not try to use the actions of one troubled person in Binghamton
to try to sidetrack what she says are needed reforms.
"Some folks might want to make
generalizations, or might want to use a tragedy in order to make a political
point, but this was just what it was: a tragedy that was a senseless,
The interfaith news conference will
be held at 11 a.m. today at Interchurch Center, Stockman Lounge (1st
Floor), 475 Riverside Dr., New York.