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Immigration Reform Champions Scheduled to Speak at the Democratic National Convention

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On Tuesday night, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will be the first Latino to give the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. He has been major Latino surrogate for Obama. And, Castro is from the same part of Texas as House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith. There couldn’t be a more stark contrast on immigration than the young Mayor of San Antonio and the nativist, anti-immigrant Congressman who represents the area around San Antonio: Lamar Smith.

The list of announced speakers at the Democratic convention is rife with supporters of immigration reform at all levels of government.  We’ll hear from a number of true champions:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, as noted above, is a champion of DREAMers who has helped changed the conventional wisdom on the immigration issue.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is the lead sponsor of the DREAM Act and it’s most ardent champion. In April of 2010, he and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) began the call to end the deportation of DREAMer deportations and, along with Senator Reid, was instrumental in getting the President to provide relief to DREAMers.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has been the leading voice for immigration reform and the DREAM Act, often touring the country to protest deportations and the separation of families.

Congressman Xavier Becerra of California is the highest ranking Latino in Congress and is a consistent champion of immigrants and immigration reform; he was instrumental in pushing for DREAM vote in House in 2010.

Congressman Charlie Gonzalez of Texas is the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and another very strong voice for immigrants in sharp contrast to his neighbor Lamar Smith.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chair of Democratic Convention, has been very outspoken in favor ofimmigrants’ rights. In his home state, Villaraigosa has been pushing for passage of the TRUST Act.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee was pro-immigrant as a Republican in the Senate. He voted for comprehensive immigration reform and against the border fence in 2006. As governor has also taken bold pro-immigrant stances like this.

Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is a strong champion for comprehensive immigration reform. He’s currently running for U.S. Senate in Virginia and is running ads touting his support for the issue. He is an example of a candidate leaning into the immigration issue in a state where Latinos can play a decisive role.

Congressman John Lewis of Georgia has been a major advocate of treating immigrants’ rights as human and civil rights. He went to Alabama to protest HB 56.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has bee a strong supporter of the DREAM Act. In 2010, he was a stalwart ally when we were trying to pass the legislation.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi brought the DREAM Act to the House floor for a vote during the lame duck sessionin 2010.

Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, who now sits on the House Judiciary Committee, has been a vocal ally andconsistent supporter of  immigrants.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, one of the highest ranking Latinos in the Obama administration, was part of the core bipartisan group working to pass comprehensive immigration while in the U.S. Senate.

And, finally,

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who wins the award for “coming the farthest”—not in miles traveled to get to the convention, but in changing his mind.  From declaring immigration the third rail of politics in 2007, he is now stronglyopposed to Secure Communities and supportive of relief for DREAMers.

There will be many other speakers who are supportive of immigrants and fair immigration reform, including Governors Deval Patrick (MA) and Pat Quinn (IL), who have opposed Secure Communities.