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Leaders of Latino, civil rights, and labor violations came together today to announce a new civic engagement campaign to win citizenship-based immigration reform in 2013. The groups issued a joint statement calling on the President and Congress to work together to pass legislation that will create opportunities for the economy, workers, and families. Civic engagement, education, and Congressional accountability campaigns will be waged throughout next year, with report cards on Congress’ performance to be issued before the 2014 election.
As their joint press statement from this morning’s event read:
We fully expect that President Obama will move aggressively on reform early next year, and we call on the House and Senate leadership to bring comprehensive immigration reform to their chambers for action. The president and Congress are at a unique moment in history that commands their leadership on comprehensive immigration reform that comports with our national values and with the will of the voters.
Comprehensive immigration reform must include a clear roadmap to citizenship for hard working, taxpaying immigrants; a system that builds the strength and unity of working people; keeps families together; guarantees the same rights, obligations, basic fairness for all workers, no matter where they come from; and internal and border law enforcement regimen that focuses on preventing criminals, drug cartels and other bad actors from entering the U.S. or engaging in criminal activities.
The announcement follows last month’s election, when Latino voters were a decisive voting bloc that broke 75% to 23% in favor of President Obama. Now, the groups wants politicians to understand that the 12 million Latinos who voted want legislative action that leads to immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring citizens.
As Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, said during the press conference today, “Congress must work on immigration reform in 2013. No more excuses, no more delaying tactics. The time to act is now.”
Janet Murguia, National President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, did not let President Obama off the hook: “I don’t believe President Obama wants record numbers of deportations to be part of his legacy. I think he wants his legacy to be immigration reform.”
The groups made it clear that voter engagement among their members has just begun, and that they will continue to use their numbers to push for leverage as next year’s immigration fight begins. Nearly every speaker warned legislators that the Latino vote will be watching, to punish or reward their actions. The groups are planning voter education campaigns that will monitor the performance of Congress as it debates immigration reform, and rate members of Congress according to whether they are champions or obstructionists on the issue. Report cards will be distributed before the 2014 election cycle, so that Latinos can determine who deserves their support.
As Brent A. Wilkes, National Executive Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens said, “Congress members are going to hear from us, through petitions, letter writing campaigns, and actions in their districts, so they don’t forget that Latinos voted or what we want.”
Added Maria Teresa Kumar, the CEO and President of Voto Latino, “If legislators are not with us during the fight for immigration reform in 2013, then in 2014 we will not be with them.”
Issuing the joint statement were Janet Murguia, National President and CEO of National Council of La Raza; Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of Service Employees International Union; Brent A. Wilkes, National Executive Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens; Ben Monterroso, National Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota; Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO/President of Voto Latino; Hector Sanchez, Executive Director, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; Chris Espinosa, National Director of Advocacy of Hispanic Federation; : Max Sevillia, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs of NALEO Educational Fund.