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CIR ASAP: Week in Review, First Reactions

by Jacquelyn Mahendra on 12/18/2009 at 12:07pm

On Wednesday, Rachel LaBruyere posted a great roundup of coverage of the introduction of CIR ASAP:

Yesterday, Representative Luis Gutierrez rang the opening bell on the fight for immigration reform in 2010. Below is a (non-exhaustive) round-up of both blog and media coverage.

To kick it off, we have Representative Luis Gutierrez’s own words about why the time is NOW:

“This is a crisis. It’s a crisis of human and civil rights, it’s a crisis of our economy and our workforce, and it’s a crisis of national security. This is why we cannot wait any longer.”

Here is the Reform Immigration For America slideshow from Tuesday’s press coference, announcing the long-awaited legislation:

Well, since Wednesday, we’ve seen some furious blogging by Congressman Gutierrez over at the Huffington Post. In “Time to End the Immigrant Blame Game,” he argues:

In the immigration debate, some things are constant. They never change. One is that opponents of immigration reform will use it as a wedge issue and will blame everything from unemployment to rising health care costs on immigrants.

Then, in “CIR ASAP Is the Bill America’s Workforce Asked for and Deserves,” he adds:

This is the bill puts an end to this kind of unchecked corruption. It is a bill that America’s hardworking labor community wants. It’s the bill that American employers need to operate effectively and ethically. And we owe it to them to reward the hard work they do to sustain us every day.

Also at the Huffington Post, America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry writes, in, “Yes We Can End this Crisis: Real Immigration Reform, A.S.A.P:”

We’ve seen it all before – and this time we’re much better prepared, and much better organized. Nevertheless, anti-immigrant extremists like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Minutemen, and the designated hate group FAIR are going to do everything they can to maintain the awful status quo. Broken borders, broken families, broken system – all in hopes of driving 12 million undocumented immigrants out of their jobs, out of their communities, and out of the country.

There’s a better way. And the legislation crafted by Rep. Gutierrez points the way forward.

Clarissa Martinez de Castro (Director of National Campaigns at NCLR) took on the challenge and opportunity of debating immigration during an election year.

Past election cycles have shown that voters reject candidates who simply demagogue this issue or adopt extreme enforcement-only approaches. For far too long, those who support the harmful status quo have been allowed to lead on this issue, even though they do not represent the can-do will of the American public. And it is clear that the immigration debate has rallied Latinos, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate, who participated in record numbers in the 2008 election, in large part in response to the promise of change. Latinos are watching. The American people are watching. And we have the public support to arrive at a solution.

Last piece at Huffington Post, Eliseo Medina (Vice President of SEIU) and Joe Hansen (President of UFCW) make the case, in “Immigration Reform is Critical Part of the Road to Recovery for America’s Workers:

Today, as comprehensive immigration reform legislation begins to move in Congress, we face an historic opportunity to pass smart, comprehensive reform that works. For the first time, the union movement is in broad agreement on the framework for reform, and we are committed to ensuring that all workers have an opportunity to work a job they can be proud of — one with middle class wages, benefits they can raise their families on, safe working conditions, and secure employment they can count on.

This jives with a piercing analysis from progressive blogger Duke, at the Sanctuary, in “Whining starts about lack of guest worker program in Gutierrez bill:”

Rather than letting business interests, with their insatiable need for cheap, exploitable labor, dictate the flow of immigration through both legal and illegal channels, Gutierrez’s bill creates a new antonymous regulatory agency within the executive branch solely charged with setting both policy and specific levels for all future employment-based immigration.

Marisa Treviño at Latina Lista puts the fight in context:

Like healthcare, immigration reform will be challenged by conservatives and liberals alike who don’t understand the day-to-day realities of over 12 million people — some parents to American-born children — who think our immigration problems can be fixed if people went back home and got in line and waited for their rightful turn.

Nezua, at The Unapologetic Mexican, had both a Weekly Diaspora feature on CIR ASAP and initial coverage of the bill’s introduction (with a killer graphic of Gutierrez), saying, respectively:

The legislation is an encouraging first step forward on the path to immigration reform. But many hurdles must be overcome before an immigration bill from the House or Senate becomes law, especially in today’s tense political environment. Outright antagonism from the nativist lobby or the far Right will be no small part of the challenge, no matter how concessionary the legislation is to Republicans. […]

Finally, there will be a link posted so you can add your voice to help support this bill. We need every voice, truly.

Maegan La Mamita Mala of Vivir Latino argued that the bill, while very progressive, should go further to protect all families:

CIR ASAP is without a doubt one of the most progressive pieces of legislation we have seen, especially when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. But progressive reform is not radical and in negotiations around policy it is often those that need the most help, some of the most marginalized in our communities, who get left out in the cold in the name of the greater good.

Becca Sheff, at the of Peace and Politics blog, blogged about the launch:

I attended the press conference for the introduction of the bill and, let me tell you, the room was packed. Members of Congress, Congressional staff, members of the press, immigration advocates, faith leaders, and immigrants of all backgrounds crowded into the room, cheering “Yes we can!” The energy was fantastic. While a lot of work remains for us to achieve humane and fair comprehensive immigration reform, Rep. Gutierrez’s bill offers important elements of reform.

Angela Caputo at Progress Illinois uses a video we shot at the press conference:

“The opponents of immigration reform will use it as a wedge issue,” Gutierrez said while unveiling the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP) (PDF). “The immigrant blame game is one of the most predictable [and] most deplorable of public debate in our nation … The only way we’re going to win this is if it’s greater than the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, if we show our leadership to bring people together.” Watch:

As evidence of the need for swift reform, USA Today covered the story of Rigo Padilla, a University of Illinois at Chicago student who has become a national poster child for the broken immigration system.

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