RI4A Summit: Roundup and a Reminder

Summit 1

Last week, as many of you know, I was busy live-blogging (and staffing) the Reform Immigration FOR America Summit here in Washington, DC. Thankfully, there were plenty of others adding their own perspective to the blogosphere, namely: Maegan la Mamita Mala at VivirLatino, Kyle DeBeausset at Citizen Orange (both of whom were posting at the Sanctuary – here and here), Jackie Mahendra at America’s Voice, Dave Neiwert of Crooks and Liars, Dream Activist, Seth Hoy at Immigration Impact, Katherine Vargas at ImmPolitic blog , Marisa Trevino at Latina Lista and Jill Garvey of Imagine 2050 – to name a few.

It was an energizing (and exhausting) few days spent with over 800 advocates, activists and leaders in an unprecedented push for comprehensive immigration reform.

summit capito hill

Between an amazing Town Hall, our takeover of Capitol Hill and the jam packed lineup of great speakers, the Summit proved that the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign is a force to be reckoned with. While not all the coverage of the campaign was positive (from both bloggers and the media), I think Jackie Mahendra at America’s Voice summarized nicely by saying:

One common thread between all of it was a feeling of great momentum and renewed energy to get reform done, and get it done soon.

The overall feeling coming out of the summit is just that: the urgency of the moment. With Harry Reid declaring that immigration reform will happen in 2009, the upcoming meeting with Obama and Members of Congress on June 17th and the unprecedented support from the labor, faith and African American communities, the momentum is certainly on our side.

summit faith

The Summit was certainly a historic moment for many who have been doing pro-immigrant work for years on end, but I want to remind folks that this is just the BEGINNING of the campaign. We have a long, uphill battle facing us, but we know that this year is different than previous years. Deepak Bhargava sums this point up nicely:

Why is this different than the push for immigration reform in previous years? Not only has this campaign been built from the bottom up — over 44 local launches of the campaign took place across the country on Monday — but it is a uniquely diverse and strong collection of folks working for a cause that a majority of the American public supports. Everyone from Rahm Emanuel to Alan Greenspan to the Police Foundation have come out in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The labor movement and the immigrant rights movement are united. Opposition to reform is increasingly the lonely province of a small but vocal and powerful group of extremists whose messages becomes more and more hateful by the day. Now is the time. This is the year.

Yes, the RI4A Summit was a rousing success, but remember, this is when the work really begins.

To view more images from the RI4A summit click here.

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