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This week the strategies and tactics that immigrant advocates are using to convince Members of Congress to support immigration reform with a path to citizenship bore significant fruit. After years of organizing and fighting battles at the local, state, and national level, a diverse coalition made up of labor unions, community activists, business leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement, and families has coalesced to pressure individual Members of Congress at the local level and is already reaping success. Today, in a conference call with reporters, leaders of the immigration reform movement discussed how they are holding Members of Congress accountable to their constituents on this pressing family issue.
Pili Tobar, Press Secretary, America’s Voice said:
This has been a busy and successful week for immigration reform advocates across the country. It is clear that the movement is diverse, strong, and ready to deliver. Members are hearing from people from the right, left and center who want immigration reform with a path to citizenship and won’t back down. Republican members coming out this past week in support of a path to citizenship is a direct result of the hard work put in by local leaders and allies to build the support needed in Congress for fair and broad immigration reform. Now, we just need House Republican leaders to schedule it for a vote.
During the call, four immigration reform advocates who are part of local campaigns to move individual Members of Congress spoke about the tactics and strategies they’re using that have already begun to show results.
Victor Galvan, Civic Engagement Coordinator for Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition said:
It was a huge victory for us to get Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) to hop on board comprehensive immigration reform with a path to earned legalization. For months the members of our coalition put in their all get a response from Coffman; they went to every event he hosted and brought with them military veterans, immigrants, women, business leaders, faith leaders, republicans, democrats, Asians and Latinos who together were able to sway him on the issue. This weekend we’re having a March and rally in Greeley, CO in which we will be registering voters to show Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) that Latinos will come out in the next election and his support for immigration reform will be a deciding factor in who they vote for.
Said Jess George, Executive Director of the Latin American Coalition:
This march and rally is a testament to the power of organized communities holding their elected officials accountable. The immigrant community in the Asheboro area drew power in numbers, engaged businesses, educators, and other allies, and intentionally brought their message to Rep. Ellmers: keep our families together.
Said Joaquín Guerra, Regional Field Director for the Center for Community Change:
This week we delivered 10,000 petitions to Rep. Farenthold to give us a vote on citizenship. We were ultimately successful in delivering the petitions and meeting with his district director, but it was just a real shame to see a nonviolent petition delivery be disrupted by anti-immigrant tea partiers that were mobilized by the Congressman’s office. We are in touch with Rep. Blake Farenthold’s (R-TX) office and will continue putting pressure on him until we get his support and our vote on citizenship. We hope to change his mind and change his heart once he sees that there is broad support in his district for immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Rep. Farenthold isn’t the only Member of Congress we contacted this week, all across the state, we had people reach their Members of Congress at their town halls and open houses, and let them know that we need them to get to work on immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.
Rebecca Shi, Organizing Director for Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights said:
We are all incredibly excited that Aaron Schock came out in support of a path to citizenship. For about 6 months we had major donors giving him the logical reasons for why comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen the economy. Businesses made a very good argument that immigrants don’t take jobs, but generate them. We also let him know about a recent poll that was done that showed 85% of Illinois voters support a path to citizenship and he definitely heard that. We have had Catholics, Evangelicals, businesses, laborers, police enforcement and many more calling him and thanking him for his stance. We have all been offering our assistance to make sure that this is a winning decision for him.
Some of the key takeaways from this week include:
Meanwhile, in a piece from the Orange County Register entitled “GOP Opens Up On Immigrants’ Legal Status” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said, “Having (undocumented immigrants) come from the shadows and be determined on an individual basis as to whether they stay longterm, midterm, or be ordered to leave – that’s the area that I think we have to get right, because it sends a message (regarding) what we’d do in the future with similar individuals who came here without coming through the front door.”
And In Washington state, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) takes on a conservative talk radio host about the undocumented, and, says, “The problem is that those people who came illegally have a responsibility and a debt to pay, but there also is a responsibility on our part to recognize that the fed govt and immigration system failed…failed to secure borders and hold people accountable…that brings us to today to the 12 million folks, what do we do? What about those folks who have been here 25 years?…what do you do with those people?….I want them to pay a fine, there’s some penalties they have to through, I want to hold them accountable and then they get citizenship and pay taxes.”
For a recording of today’s call, click here.
To keep tabs on Republican House Members who have come out for a path to citizenship, follow the America’s Voice blog here.