Tag Archives: Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Rep. Crowley and 110 democrats call for immigration reform

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Today Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) joined the growing chorus of voices calling for comprehensive immigration reform. In a telephonic briefing with New York & national advocates, including FIRM partner NYIC, Crowley stressed the urgency of the issue, saying:

“This is a moral imperative – the time is now.”

The Representative recently delivered a letter to President Obama that was signed by 110 of his fellow House of Representative democrats, telling the Commander in Chief:

We need [your]leadership to move immigration reform forward and we stand ready to support comprehensive reform that balances our nation’s security needs with a realistic and humane solution for the estimated 12 million undocumented people already living in the United States.

This is a significant step, given the President’s repeated appeals that  he needs support to help move the legislation through Congress. That support is coming steadily now, from Crowley and his peers, from communities of faith and even from law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Ali Noorani, director of the National Immigration Forum summarizes this growing support:

“The demand for reform is growing and the political muscle behind it is getting stronger. Across the country, communities are energized and increasingly engaged in immigration reform advocacy efforts.  Diverse constituencies including labor, business, faith and civil rights and immigrant rights groups understand the fierce urgency of revamping our immigration system so it restores the rule of law, upholds our nation’s values, treats immigrants with dignity, and responds to our nation’s economic and labor needs.”

Thank you to Representative Crowley and his peers who have the courage to stand up for what is right and demand action on comprehensive immigration reform. We need more courageous lawmakers to do the same.

The Reform Mantra for This Week: Focus, Values, and Leadership

immigration reform cartoon

Check out the second guest post from Robert Gittelson – its a great reminder about where we are in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR)!

This has been somewhat of a frustrating and difficult week for both sides in the immigration debate. The anti’s have been sidetracked by the deranged and violent acts of one of their own, which has lead to an outpouring of blistering attacks against racism and extremism, tainting the anti coalition with guilt by association.

The pro CIR advocates have been frustrated by the continued delays on the part of the White House, in their promised meeting with legislators to begin crafting the CIR legislation, (which I heard was now re-scheduled for June 25th).

While I understand that tensions are high, and seem to be escalating, I counsel that everyone involved in this debate should take a deep breath, pause to get their bearings, and refocus on the task at hand.

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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.

Thursday’s Hearing on Immigration is a Big Step Forward

Tomorrow Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will hold his first hearing as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees. The hearing is titled Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?”. The list of speakers is expansive – and promising.

The hearing will feature testimony from Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Dr. Joel Hunter of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and SEIU’s Eliseo Medina, to name a few.

FED INTEREST RATES

Is it me, or do these speakers resemble the broad-based coalition that is coming together to support immigration reform in 2009? We have Greenspan representing the economic and business interests, Hunter bringing the faith-based support to the table and Medina showing that the support of the labor unions is going strong.

Jackie from America’s Voice will be live-blogging the hearing, be sure to tune in at 2:00 pm and listen to what goes down. Check it out here.

The hearing is a sign that reform is really going to happen this year – this is a small step, but an extremely strong one. It shows that the momentum for reform is growing, and not just from pro-migrant advocates.

America’s Voice answers both questions posed in the hearing (“can it be done”? and “how”?):

It will be instructive to see how both parties behave during next week’s Senate Judiciary Hearing, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?””

With the White House recently renewing its pledge to move forward on immigration reform this year with the unified support of the nation’s largest labor coalitions, we might expect the answer to the first question to be, “Yes.”

To answer the question, “How?”

Tune into what the public- not the noisy Minuteman minority- really want. Weigh the economic benefits of legalizing twelve million underground workers and cracking down on bad-actor employers against the human and financial costs of deporting 12 million men, women, and children.

Most importantly, take the debate back from the extremists.

Not only is the hearing a great step forward, but the next day, on May 1st, hundreds of thousands of people will be taking it to the streets, showing the American public’s appetite for reform and their commitment to the issue. For more on the May Day marches, check out www.anewdayforimmigration.org.

VIDEO: Ali Noorani Takes on Lou Dobbs

Watch the video below to see Ali Noorani, of the National Immigration Forum, take on Lou Dobbs and Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

UPDATE: Obama Meets with Congressional Hispanic Caucus

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Earlier today I mentioned that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with President Obama to urge him to address comprehensive immigration reform this year. The President expressed a continued commitment to reforming immigration and also noted that his administration will be looking for ways to relieve the damage done to communities by current immigration enforcement measures.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a champion of comprhensive immigration reform, released statement about the meeting:

“We came to the President today as allies and supporters, and in return he showed us that he remains committed to immigration reform that stabilizes our economy, secures our borders and keeps our families together. “The President showed the CHC that, although it is very early in his administration, he understands that for the immigrant community it’s the 11th hour, and there is no time to waste. The Latino community supported President Obama overwhelmingly in the election, and they remain energized not only by his victory but also by his message of support for comprehensive immigration reform. I believe that a plan is forthcoming, and that we will see real change this year.”

This is an extremely important step toward immigration reform happening this year and an energizing message for all of us who are pushing for it. It seems like the demand for reform is going to hit a critical mass in the near future, with so many different voices joining to call on the administration and Congress to address the issue.

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FIRM’s parent organization, the Center for Community Change, also released a statement from our Executive Director, Deepak Bhargava. He had this to say about today’s meeting:

Today, we welcome President Obama’s pledge during the CHC meeting to start a national conversation on just and humane immigration reform. The Center looks forward to bringing the voices of those most affected to the conversation.

Our country, now more than ever, needs comprehensive immigration reform that gives the hard working men and women already here an earned path to citizenship, keeps families together and provides legal avenues for future workers to seek out opportunities here and join the struggle to strengthen our economy.

Its so important to remember that during this time of crisis in our country, we have to come together to solve then nation’s problems. Continuing the politics of divisiveness and exclusion will not foster the type of community solutions that we need. We need everyone’s contribution, both to the economy and to our communities, if we want to right the course of the nation.

It’s looking like today’s meeting is the first step to getting back on course.

Obama Can’t Afford to Ignore Immigration

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While I think that we proved this last week with our quick and forceful response to the immigration raid in Bellingham, today’s Herald Tribune gives more reasoning behind why Obama must address comprehensive immigration reform this year.

An excerpt:

Still, the notion that immigration can be finessed is a mirage. The problem will only get worse, and so will the politics. Obama, 47, a Democrat, would have to renege on his campaign promise to push a major immigration overhaul along the lines of the Kennedy-McCain measure in his first year.

The agriculture, food service and construction industries rely on immigrants. They are going through down times, but they’ll need more immigrants when they bounce back.

That’s true of the overall economy, says Tamar Jacoby, a scholar who favors an overhaul of the immigration system.

“Immigration reform may be harder in the middle of a recession, to make the case that we need more workers,” Jacoby says. “But the only way out of a recession is to grow out of it, and we need workers to do that.”

Even with the drop in the number of illegal immigrants – there are still an estimated 11.5 million in the country, or about 4 percent of the population – the social tensions are worsening. Highly publicized raids are disrupting communities and generating furious resentment among Hispanics.

Click here to read the full article. All signs are pointing to Comprehensive Immigration Reform hitting the floor THIS year. Communities, advocates, families and immigrants across the country will be ready to rally around legislation of Just and Humane reform.

Across the Country, People Pray for Immigrants

Last week the Interfaith Immigration Coalition launched the “Prayer, Renewal and Action on Immigration” campaign, calling on faith and community leaders to hold vigils and pray for the protection of immigrants and their families and the moral courage of leaders in Washington to promote just and humane Immigration Reform.

So far, over 130 vigils have been registered – for a full list of vigils, check out www.ANewDayforImmigration.org.

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Right now, we are witnessing a tremendous outpouring of support for immigration reform from faith and community leaders across the country. This past weekend, at least 30 of the first vigils were held – below is a roundup of media coverage from those events.

The tide is turning in the immigration debate. Folks are tired of the abusive tactics of the past 8 years and are demanding  an immigration system that fits with our values, supports our communities and maintains family unity.

Dallas Morning News: From Dallas church, people pray for ‘humane and just’ immigration reform

Idaho Press Tribune: Vigil will focus on immigration

Aurora Sentinel: Faith calls together crowd for immigration vigil

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Interfaith church vigil calls for immigration reform

WHEC News: Immigration reform prayer service

ABC 11 News: Immigration supporters pray for change

North Carolina News Network: Prayer For An End To Immigration Raids

Raleigh News & Observer: Prayer vigil focuses on immigration

WRAL News: Raleigh joins national vigil for immigration reform

Omaha World Herald: Bishops take on immigrant policies

Virginian Pilot: Religious group to host immigration talk in Va. Beach

Alter Net: Religious Leaders Help Shape Immigration Debate

Christian Post: Faith Leaders Re-Ignite Immigration Debate

The Hill: Immigration reform advocates push forward in tough economy

Decorah Journal: Postville prayer vigil Thursday

MSNBC: Immigration reform prayer service

Jersey Journal: Immigration vigil tonight

Catholic News Agency: Nebraska bishops use input from laity to tackle immigration reform

Columbus Telegram: Bishops urge care with immigrants

Cary News: Cary immigration reform group holds training session

Great Falls Tribune: Immigration bill targets illegal workers

San Diego Union Tribune: Bilingual workshop set to help with immigration

Annapolis Capital: Immigrants march to protest Va. county’s policies

El Piolín Interviews President Obama

obamaYesterday, President Obama was a guest on “El Piolín por la manana” (on of the nation’s popular radio shows that boast an enormous Latin@ following). Obama and the First Lady were on his show several times during the campaign and yesterday he made the commitment to continue to have a regular presence from the Administration on the show.

During the interview, Obama pledged his support of the Latin@ and immigrant community and his continuing commitment to fixing our broken immigration system.  You can read the full transcript after the jump, but here is a good highlight:

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I’ve said every time I’ve been on the show, Piolín, we’re going to make sure that we begin the process of dealing with the immigration system that’s broken.  We’re going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current system so that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens, like you did, that they are able to do it; that it’s cheaper, that it’s faster, that they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members.

And then we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform.  Now, you know, we need to get started working on it now.  It’s going to take some time to move that forward, but I’m very committed to making it happen.  And we’re going to be convening leadership on this issue so that we can start getting that legislation drawn up over the next several months.

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Why Congress Should Pass Immigration Reform This Year

74170262DM014_Immigrant_GroAs I have mentioned before, without Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Congress will continue to battle out the immigration issue with every bill that hits the floor. We’ve seen this recently with the SCHIP battle and the Stimulus bill – and it won’t stop soon, unless Comprehensive Reform is passed. Simon Rosenberg, from NDN just posted about this on the organization’s blog – and announced a Forum on the topic this Thursday, Feb. 19th.

…the proxy wars in Congress and in the states will continue. There is simply no way to duck this one, wish it away. Inaction is not an option any longer. By the fall, the pressure on lawmakers and the President to address a very visible national problem, and the fatigue of battling this out in proxy war after proxy war, will create a climate in which progress on this tough issue I think will be more than possible.

To talk more about this compelling national challenge, come join NDN next Thursday, February 19, for a forum, Making the Case: Why Congress Should Pass Immigration Reform This Year. For those not in DC, we will be Web casting it live and recording it for future review. Stay tuned to this blog for more information about both.

I will be tuning into the webcast this Thursday and others should join in too. This is a top tier issue for our current Congress and we must continue to push for reform at the Federal level. Without it, we will be fighting too many of these proxy wars and will see law makers bogged down in this issue time and time again.