Tag Archives: obama immigration

Leadership & Reform: From the Bottom Up & the Top Down


Here is another great post from our guest-blogger, Robert Gittelson:

In light of yesterday’s much anticipated meeting at the White House, in which President Obama finally and formally kicked off his campaign to push for a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, I thought that I would weigh in, and put my two-cents on the table. I am convinced, particularly in light of the comments that I’ve read and heard coming from today’s Immigration Reform meeting’s participants, that things are about to heat up.

That being said, the effort to get CIR passed will be a team effort. It will also require  a vertical effort. By that, I mean that this will require leadership, pressure, and persuasion on and from within our Congress from the bottom up, and the top down. The bottom up will come from the grass roots activists, advocates, and faith and human rights organizations, especially the Reform Immigration for America coalition.

From within Congress, I anticipate strong leadership from pro-CIR legislators and champions of CIR such as Luis Gutierrez, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, to name just a few. Actually, below is a complete list of participants in today’s meeting at the White House, (in addition to the President and Vice President):

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White House contradicts Senator Reid on Immigration, Common Sense

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Yesterday, Roll Call broke the story of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying that immigration reform in 2009 was “unlikely” and remarking that there weren’t the votes necessary to pass legislation. The truth is, however, that this flies in the face of common sense and the momentum that has been built since the failed attempt at reform in 2007.

Senator Harry Reid recently acknowledged that comprehensive immigration reform was, in fact,  likely in 2009. Although skepticism over the number of votes has dogged the legislation, Reid knows that the votes are gettable – but we have to push.

He added that although the legislation does not have the backing of all Democrats, the bill will overcome the obstacles that stymied the failed 2007 reform.

The majority leader said he has “no doubt” he could find as many as a dozen Republicans who support the measure to make up for defections in Democratic ranks.

“We can’t deport 11 million undocumented people, we can’t do it physically and financially, as some would want,” Reid said. “Immigration is the strength of our country, we bring waves of people to our country who excel in education and the workforce, and that’s good.”

With Reid working from within Congress, and the Reform Immigration FOR America Campaign building momentum on the ground, there is little reason to doubt that we will have the votes necessary when legislation hits Congress.

Not to mention that the politics of the game have changed. In 2007, we didn’t have the broad, strong coalition of faith, labor and community leaders from across the country. We didn’t have the pressing economic need of bringing millions of workers out of the shadows, increasing tax revenue and raising wages across the board. We didn’t have the decisive votes of Latino and New American voters that we saw during this past election, making the constituency most supportive of immigration reform a political priority for the administration.

All of this and the GOP is in a state of disarray – launching outrageous attacks at the latest Supreme Court Justice and still reeling from their loss during the last election (how many times did we warn them that using immigration as a wedge issue was political suicide)?

As Deepak Bhargava recently said in a piece about the urgent need for immigration reform:

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

With all of these factors at play, reform is inevitable. It will be a matter of whether lawmakers are brave enough to stand up for reform this year or are unwilling to see how urgently America needs this legislation. We have the votes, we have the momentum, the time is NOW.

ACTION: Call the White House for Immigration Reform

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Last week, amidst our planning for the big meeting at the White House this week, we got word that the meeting was being delayed for a second time. While this is a disappointment, we are still confident that the momentum is in our favor. Another delay will not negate the power behind the majority of the American public that is ready to see reform happen this year.

From Paco Fabian at America’s Voice:

Here’s the thing. President Obama has consistently pledged to move forward on immigration reform this year, and the expectation is clear that he will do just that. The time is ripe, with an overwhelming majority of voters supporting real reform  an overwhelming majority of voters supporting real reform, a new national campaign to garner support in Congress, and both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi putting comprehensive immigration reform on the front-burner last week.

In the mean time, we have to hold the administration accountable. It is up to US to keep the pressure on and let President Obama and Congress know that the time is NOW (despite their delays) and that we won’t take no for an answer.

So what can you do? CALL THE WHITE HOUSE TODAY!

Call  5:00pm EST to tell Obama to pass immigration reform this year.

For Spanish: 1-866-967-6018

For English: 1-866-961-2143

When you are connected to the White House, please tell the operator that you would like President Obama to keep his promise and help pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship THIS YEAR.

Another delay doesn’t have to mean a set-back in the push for immigration reform this year, but we want to show the administration that we are serious and we WILL hold them accountable.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Meets with Obama


This morning, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus sit down with President Obama for the first time in his new administration. Top priority on today’s agenda will be the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

From The Hill.com

CHC is eager to hear the president’s ideas and proposals for tackling immigration reform, not only regarding a comprehensive reform bill that could provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers but also as it relates to rolling back Bush administration policies of raiding workplaces and detaining and deporting thousands of illegal workers.

CHC members came away from a recent meeting in the Capitol with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — a day after her Senate confirmation hearing — very encouraged that the workplace-raids policy would be fully reviewed and possibly altered.

Yet, CHC has expressed frustration that Obama has not yet gotten the message on how damaging the raids are to Hispanic communities across the country.

CHC has made the raids and their human cost the new focus of its immigration reform push, although a comprehensive reform bill remains very much a priority for the group, and one that it is encouraging Obama to push.

I will be sure to keep you posted on any news coming out of this meeting. It certainly feels like the demand for comprehensive reform is growing louder by the day. Let’s hope the administration hears us loud and clear.

UPDATE: Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Immigration Reform after Last Week’s Raid

Last Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided an engine remanufacturing plant in Bellingham, Washington, ignited a quick and fierce outcry from immigration rights advocates and communities across the country. We responded and the administration listened.

The day after the Raid, after thousands of calls into the White House and meetings on the Hill, Janet Napolitano called for an investigation into the raid.

Napolitano told lawmakers during a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that she did not know about the raid before it happened and was briefed on it early Wednesday morning. She has asked U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested 28 illegal immigrants in the raid, for answers.

“I want to get to the bottom of this as well,” she said. She said work-site enforcement needs to be focused on the employers.


The White House has now also responded through spokesman Nick Shapiro:

“Secretary Napolitano is conducting a thorough review of ICE, including enforcement,” Mr. Shapiro said. “The president believes we must respect due process and our best values as we enforce the law. The real answer to our broken immigration system is to fix it. The president has said that we will start the immigration reform debate this year, and this continues to be the plan.”

There you have it folks. We yelled and the administration answered. It looks like immigration will be on the agenda this year. Lets hope Obama keeps his promise to get the ball rolling on Comprehensive Reform; because if he doesn’t, we will be here to keep up the pressure!

Sherrif Joe Arpaio Strikes Again

Last week I posted on Sherriff Joe Arpaio and his anti-immigrant crusade in Arizona’s Maricopa County. It seems as though Sherrif Joe struck again last week – this time he and his “posse” raided Mesa, Arizona’s City Hall, the Public Library and a number of private homes.

The raid, which was conducted SWAT style with at least 60 armed agents, highlights the increasing tension between Sherriff Joe’s tactic and Arizona officials.

The raid angered city officials who have been at odds with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County over his efforts to fight illegal immigration.

Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa criticized Sheriff Arpaio for sending the SWAT team into his city without properly advising the Mesa police, who learned about raid when an officer discovered sheriff’s deputies assembling in a residential park about 12:30 a.m.

“Law enforcement should never put the public at risk,” Mr. Smith said.


In an editorial in the New York Times, the raid was called “A War on Janitors” (the targets were employees of a cleaning company), harshly criticizing Arpaio’s tactics.

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