BALTIMORE, MD (CBS Newspath) – As we near the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, many immigrants are still fighting for permanent status in the United States.
At a recent march in Washington, participants said creating better pathways to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the U.S. should be on the top of lawmakers’ priority lists. Perhaps no one more than Ricardo Ortiz, a 30-year-old from Oaxaca in Southwest Mexico, who moved to the states two years ago. Ortiz joined CASA, the largest grassroots immigrant advocacy organization in the mid-Atlantic. For him, it’s personal. He grew up attending marches alongside his mother in their village. “A lot of them are here because they don’t have opportunities in their country. They want to live in a better place, for their children, for them, and also for their communities,” Ortiz says.
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As debate over reform heats up, Ortiz and CASA are regularly in D.C. When he isn’t, he canvasses the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, and the surrounding suburbs, making connections with the city’s growing Latino population. “I’ve learned a lot of things. I think the principle is that I’ve learned about my rights, about the rights of the immigrant community, but also how to speak English,” Ortiz says.
Outreach is another pillar for CASA, providing job opportunities, rental assistance, and even COVID vaccine information for thousands. Ortiz is there organizing food distribution sites for 250 people a week. German Salgado, who works with Ricardo, says, “He’s a big help for the Hispanic community in general. It doesn’t matter not only for Spanish, but all kinds of different nationalities.”
But it’s shoring up permanent status for millions that’s at Ortiz’s core. He says, “We work so hard for this beautiful country, and they want to just live their life and live a good life.” Ortiz says, a good life only made better with comprehensive legislation for immigrants and their families.