HOLLYWOOD – As scores of Immigration Attorneys from across the United States converge on the nation’s capital on March 19, 2009, two unlikely participants will be front and center. Jamaican born and Florida based attorneys Dahlia Walker-Huntington and Wayne Golding are traveling from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida respectively to join forces to lobby the United States Congress for Immigration reform.
“Despite the economic conditions globally, this might be the best convergence of political will aligned to actually see meaningful immigration reform in this country”, says Walker-Huntington. It is estimated that there are anywhere between 12 to15 million people living in the United States illegally, and there are divergent viewpoints on what to do with all these people.
In 2007 both houses of Congress addressed the issue of immigration reform, but the measures died before becoming law.
The Senate majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV signaled that the Senate would address the immigration issue earlier this year, and Republican insider Carl Rove also made a statement that his party would have to review their position on immigration. The Rove statement was in wake of several of the Republican anti-immigrant candidates’ dismal showing at the polls in November, 2008, and the fact that the Democrats secured the majority of the Hispanic vote. Put those two statements together with a President who during his campaign also signaled a willingness to address the issue of the 12-15 million undocumented living in the USA and the perfect storm might just exist.
“We want a voice at the table this time around”, says Golding of Orlando, “the previous debate was devoid of any significant Caribbean voices – we aim to change that”. The two lawyers who are products of Jamaica – Walker-Huntington an Alpha Academy graduate and Golding a Kingston College alumni have joined forces before to bring to the Caribbean community.
Walker-Huntington was the first female president of the Caribbean Bar Association of Florida, and during her tenure launched the Caribbean Bar Association Central Florida Chapter in 2004 of which Golding is now the sitting President. They have led community forums and citizenship drives in their various communities to bring a voice to the voiceless.
“We know through our practices and our work in our communities that there are thousands of Caribbean people who are living in the shadows in the US, and we also understand how devastating it would be for families in the US and for the Caribbean if these people were to be summarily deported from the United States”, says Walker-Huntington. “Families are well established with US citizen children and parents have no papers, some are business owners and all are contributing.” The Jamaican duo has joined with their colleagues from the American Immigration Lawyers Association to lobby Congress to address the immigration issue.
Walker-Huntington and Golding have given their commitment to work with members of Congress from both parties and other immigration practitioners to get the issue on the table in a positive light and have signaled their willingness to assist in whatever way they can to ensure a fair bill that protects the undocumented, tackles the current system of immigration and addresses the security of the United States.