Pro-Reform Side Continues to Flex Muscle Following November Elections With Massive Petition Drive; Names to Be Inserted into Hearing Record
As the immigration debate continues to steal the spotlight this week—at the President’s State of the Union address last night and today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing—nearly 300,000 Americans are making their voices heard and 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 immigration, labor, Latino and progressive groups, 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.
As the first immigration hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee gets underway, the 265,213 petitions will be entered into the official Senate hearing record, marking a significant victory in the fight for citizenship for the 11 million.
Unlike previous years when Congress debated immigration reform, the pro-immigration community is large and organized—while the anti-reform contingent has grown increasingly shrill and impotent when it comes to influencing national elections.
The petition drive was led by a wide range of immigration, Latino and progressive organizations, including CREDO Action, Presente.org, Reform Immigration FOR America (RI4A), Daily Kos, National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF).
CREDO Action played a leading role in this effort, collecting over 100,000 petitions. “Over 100,000 CREDO activists are urging Congress to pass real immigration reform that will provide a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans,” said Becky Bond, CREDO’s Political Director. “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.”
“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,” said Arturo Carmona, director of Presente.org. “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.”
“The legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants is a matter of when, not if,” said Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of Daily Kos and himself an immigrant from El Salvador. “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.”
“Well, America has spoken and the people want citizenship,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director at America’s Voice Education Fund. “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.”