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Immigrants Embrace Democracy through the Ballot Box While Anti-Immigrant Leader Beck Promotes Fear and Intimidation
On the day that thousands peacefully marched nationwide to mobilize immigrant voters in November, anti-immigrant leader Roy Beck called for hostile treatment of immigrants and continued to support the mass deportation of 12 million people living and working in the United States. “We want to…create an inhospitable environment for immigration law breakers so more and more will decide to go home,” said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA. [New York Times, 5/2/08]
“It is shameful that on a day where thousands rallied in the name of Democracy and the ‘American Dream,’ Roy Beck would resort to tactics of fear and intimidation that run contrary to American ideals,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Beck’s call to create an America where even legal immigrants feel unwelcome is not only unpatriotic, it is nowhere near a solution to the crisis at hand.”
The extremist rhetoric of Beck and his allies are what is helping to drive intense voter mobilization efforts around the country that will play a central role in the 2008 election cycle. Already there has been a surge of immigrant voter participation in the early primary states that will likely spell doom or reward for politicians depending on whether they embrace real solutions or sound bites.
“Visions of rounding up and harassing millions of Latinos to find out their immigration status is nothing more than Roy Beck’s version of non-violent ethnic cleansing. This narrow-minded plan will insult the fastest growing group of voters while failing to provide real solutions to illegal immigration,” concluded Sharry.
Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.
Media coverage of yesterday’s rallies shows the depth of support for workable solutions and the American Dream:
“While the breadth of activities will be significant, most eyes are turned toward the November election,” said Rich Stolz, a coordinator with Fair Immigration Reform Movement, which oversees activist groups across the country. “We’ve been calling on the candidates to prioritize immigration.” [Associated Press, 4/29/08]
“Activists say this year’s efforts are focused less on protests and more on voter registration and setting an agenda for the next president.” [Associated Press, 5/2/08]
“If we don’t make our voice heard to the electorate, then there’s no point,” said Ricardo Serrano, outreach coordinator of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights for the Northwest suburbs, prior to the march. “We’re trying to move away from, ‘just come and march and this is the one thing you do this year for immigration reform.’ “[Chicago Daily Herald, 5/1/08]
Organizers have been focusing their efforts since then in less visible ways: pressuring Congress for immigration reform legislation, registering foreign-born citizens to vote and encouraging legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. A record number of naturalization applications were filed last year. [San Francisco Chronicle, 5/1/08]
“Marches and demonstrations that happened across the country was the way that the immigrant community gave a face to the value that the community brings to the nation,” said Mr. de la Cruz. “But in order to make political changes, we have to make sure that we increase our participation at the ballot box and through citizenship efforts.” [Dallas Morning News, 5/2/08]
“We want a commitment from the three presidential candidates to pass humane immigration reform in the first 100 days in office,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, director of Voces de la Frontera, the main organization behind the Milwaukee march. [New York Times, 5/2/08]
Speaking Spanish, Bermudez, the group’s founder and director, says he’s looking for registered voters to sign a petition for an opponent of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But he also wants those in the lobby to know this: Together with Hispanics around Arizona, they have political power. “The most positive thing we can do is make sure everybody who is a U.S. citizen is registered to vote and everybody who is registered to vote comes out to vote,” Bermudez says. [Tucson Citizen, 4/30/08]