Today was another milestone in the fight for immigration reform with a clear path to citizenship. The U.S. Senate held its first hearing. And, the pro-reform side showed its political muscle with a massive petition drive whose names were inserted into the record at the hearing.
Nearly 300,000 Americans made their voices heard, calling on Congress to ensure that citizenship for all 11 million is at the heart of the new immigration reform law. Led by a coalition of progressive groups, who were joined by immigration, labor and Latino organizations, the petition effort shows that the pro-immigrant reform movement is expanding and activating hundreds of thousands of Americans in this legislative battle following a similar mobilization around the November elections. This marks a sharp contrast to earlier legislative fights when our side was out-numbered. Not anymore. Unlike previous years when Congress debated immigration reform, the pro-immigration community is large, organized and expanding—while the anti-reform contingent has grown increasingly shrill and impotent when it comes to influencing national elections.
As the first immigration hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the 265,213 petitions were entered into the official Senate hearing record, marking a significant victory in the fight for citizenship for the 11 million.
CREDO Action was at the forefront of this effort and played a leading role by collecting over 100,000 petitions. Here’s how Becky Bond, CREDO’s Political Director described their involvement:
Over 100,000 CREDO activists are urging Congress to pass real immigration reform that will provide a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans. Any plan to reform our disastrous immigration laws must focus on making sure that the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. who want to fulfill the requirements for citizenship are given the opportunity to do so on an accelerated timeline that is both practical and humane.
Arturo Carmona, director of Presente.org, added:
Latino voters are pleased the country is discussing and debating immigration reform. Latino voters are also profoundly concerned that as currently discussed in the Senate and White House, proposals for immigration reform will likely end up excluding millions from among the 11 million. Multiple traps — unrealistic language requirements, exorbitant fees, unfair employment requirements, and other obstacles — will guarantee that millions of immigrants are excluded. We are calling for real immigration reform that includes all 11 million undocumented immigrants, no less.
From Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of Daily Kos and himself an immigrant from El Salvador, who has been one of the most prominent pro-reform voices in the progressive movement”
The legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants is a matter of when, not if. Republicans and xenophobic Democrats can either pout and stand in the way, or they can embrace the dreams and aspirations of hard-working immigrants who simply aspire to call themselves “Americans”.
According to Clarissa Martinez, Director of Immigration at NCLR:
As Americans, we believe that ‘Out of Many, One’ is not just a motto—it is what makes our country what it is. And that is why the majority of Americans support a roadmap to citizenship as integral to immigration reform—because the alternative of relegating a whole group of people to second class status fundamentally contradicts the principles that this nation is built upon. The American public understands it, and our lawmakers must push politics aside to deliver it.
And, our own Deputy Director Lynn Tramonte said:
Well, America has spoken and the people want citizenship. With our partners and the AVEF network of over 120,000 advocates, we’re ready to make immigration reform that puts 11 million Americans-in-waiting on the road to full citizenship a reality. This is our moment.
This is our moment. The immigration reform movement showed its strength in the 2012 elections. Now, we’re expanding our coalition, gaining momentum and showing our power.