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Rallies promise: “Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote”
With the crucial November elections for Congress and President just six months away, tens of thousands of people rallied across the nation today to bring their voting power to the growing demand for national and local leaders to support immigration solutions that work and promised to vote in November. Participants protested anti-immigrant policies, politicians and media personalities that spread fear and hate while tearing communities apart. In dozens of rallies around the country, rally goers carried signs that say, “Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote.” Immigrant rights supporters from coast to coast have been registering voters and helping people become citizens in unprecedented numbers-increasing civic participation in key states and Congressional districts in this exciting election year.
“The focus of the immigration movement in 2008 has become much more sophisticated and well-organized as a political force, shifting its efforts to voter mobilization in order to make their voice and vote heard at the polls,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, the newly-founded communications and rapid-response arm of the coordinated campaign to advance immigration reform. “This year’s rallies are just one snapshot of the intense voter mobilization effort around the country that we believe 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 who seek to use anti-immigration as a wedge in the election. The Republican strategy of using immigration as a wedge issue will have negative consequences, alienating immigrant and Latino voters. This narrow-minded plan will insult the fastest growing group of voters while simultaneously insulting white swing voters who do not want to deport 12 million people at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and more taxes to pay for it. It will prove to be a losing strategy in 2008 as it has been in the 2007 and 2006 election cycles. he government to solve this complex problem, it could solidify the Latino vote as solidly Democratic for more than a generation. “
Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.
Recent quotes note the change in strategy:
· “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]
· “We hope policymakers will look at this data to see who is in their district and how to best serve their interests,” said Daranee Petsod, executive director of Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees, a Sebastopol, Calif.-based organization. “With these numbers, immigrants can invigorate our democracy.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/29/08]
· “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]
· 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]
· The county employment development corporation study, conducted by its chief economist Jack Kyser, analyzed three industries thought to employ high numbers of immigrant workers — fashion, food and furniture manufacturing — and found that about 10,000 businesses created nearly 500,000 direct and indirect jobs and produced $18.3 billion in annual wages. If 15% of those firms left — and several are being aggressively wooed by out-of-state business recruiters, Kyser said — the region would lose nearly 75,000 jobs, the report found. [Los Angeles Times, 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]