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AV's Frank Sharry Talks Immigration State of Play In NCLR Q&A

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Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice, and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey will be honored tonight at the 28th annual NCLR (National Council of La Raza) Capital Awards gala.

In a statement, NCLR writes: “Under Sharry’s leadership, America’s Voice has spearheaded advocacy efforts to push for comprehensive immigration reform and administrative action from the president, often working hand-in-hand with NCLR. Sharry has been a critical ally in this debate and a champion for all American families threatened by deportation.”

In a special Q&A, NCLR asked Sharry five questions about the current state of play in our continuing movement for immigration reform:

NCLR: You have been an advocate for immigrants in this country for more than three decades. How would you describe that struggle as it stands today?

Sharry: After many ups and downs over many years, we have turned the corner and are now winning. In 2012, our movement followed the lead of DREAMers and helped win protection for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants. That same year, the Supreme Court dealt anti-immigrant legislation in states such as Arizona and Alabama a deathblow. Later in the year, the president was reelected with a strong showing from the Latino community, making it evident that immigration is a defining and mobilizing issue for many voters.

NCLR: Taking into account the current political climate, do you think we are closer to comprehensive immigration reform, or are the challenges bigger than ever?

Sharry: I believe that comprehensive immigration reform is inevitable. It is the best policy to modernize our dysfunctional immigration system in a way that reflects our values and restores our confidence. And politically, it enjoys strong majority support in the country, support from constituencies across the political spectrum, and majorities in the Congress.

While it’s quite clear that for this Congress the Republican majority is more interested in nullifying the president’s executive actions than in passing pro-immigrant reforms, I am hopeful that the 2016 election will open space for comprehensive immigration legislation in 2017. In fact, it could be similar to what happened after the 2012 election, but on steroids.

If not, then until we have a Congress that will do what the American people want, we may have to rely on a combination of additional executive actions and state and local pro-immigrant policies that will give the majority of undocumented immigrants living in America work permits, driver’s licenses, access to higher education, worker protections, and travel permission. However long it takes, I think we’ve won the argument, we’ve won the politics, and we’re gaining strength every day as a movement. Victory is a matter of when, not if.

You can read the remaining questions over at NCLR’s blog. America’s Voice would like to thank the National Council of La Raza for this honor, and congratulations to Frank and Senator Booker!