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National Immigration Experts & Advocates Preview Road Ahead as Landmark Bill Advances to Senate Floor

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The following is a press release from the Alliance for Citizenship:

Leaders from the Alliance for Citizenship, a national campaign working with hundreds of groups across the country to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a direct and inclusive path to citizenship, previewed the next steps to advance S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday night.

Speaking on a press call today, leaders discussed the amendments that both strengthened and weakened the bill, and discussed the path forward as the bill moves to the Senate floor while the House takes up its own bipartisan legislation.

Referring to a meeting between President Obama, Vice President Biden, and immigrant families in the Oval Office, and the constant presence of families during the Senate mark-up process, Deepak Bhargava, the Executive Director for Center for Community Change, said:

Yesterday was historic in many ways.  Never before has a process in Washington been so shaped, influenced and DRIVEN by the power of the grass roots and the stories of REAL people who will be impacted by the policies that shape their lives.

Tom Snyder, Campaign Manager for the AFL-CIO’s Citizenship Now campaign said:

The Senate Judiciary Committee took America a major step close to healing the deportation crisis that has wrecked families, communities and workplaces for far too long. But labor will not rest.  Indeed, we are set to redouble labor’s campaign for a roadmap to citizenship. That will mean everything from old school lobbying to new school social media in conjunction with new and longstanding allies.

Eliseo Medina, Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employees International Union said:

Yesterday was a great day – a day that immigrants and our country have been awaiting for a long, long time. The passage of S.744 is a huge step to finally fixing our broken down, ineffective and inefficient immigration system. But our work is not done. Together, we will mobilize and communicate with members of Congress who wish to stand in the right side of history and urge them for reform. It is what our country needs and deserves.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, of the United Methodist Church of Los Angeles said:

I celebrate the step that has been taken towards enacting much needed immigration reform.  The bill that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, reveals we still have much work to do.  Families are still in need of protections and our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are once again discriminated against. United Methodists and other people of faith are praying and acting boldly all over the country for just and humane reform. I pray that our leaders in the Senate will follow their lead. We need a pathway to citizenship that isn’t punitive and is accessible.  And we need to protect families and not sacrifice them on the altar of economic prosperity. There is a way forward and it begins with treating the immigrant with diginity and respect and protecting families. I pray the Senate will walk that pathway with us.

Said Wade Henderson, President & CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

The pressure on the Judiciary Committee members to abandon comprehensive immigration reform was intense – yet they worked together on a bipartisan basis to advance a strong compromise bill. As we approach the full Senate vote and consideration in the House of Representatives, there will be some who wish to derail this important legislation; they will fail. That’s because the public agrees with us. Recent polling by FWD.us shows that 71 percent of all Americans believe that people who work hard to make our country a better place, and who are willing to play by the rules, deserve to be treated fairly and to have an equal chance to share in the American Dream.

Marielena Hincapié, the Executive Director of The National Immigration Law Center and moderator of the call said:

Yesterday’s historic vote brought Americans one step closer toward creating the immigration system our country needs and deserves. Several hurdles remain for this landmark legislation,  but the 11 million aspiring citizens deserve to be free from the threat of deportation, and our country deserves broad and inclusive commonsense immigration reform.  We will fight arduously and tirelessly for an inclusive, direct, and real road to citizenship. We will fight back against any attempt to make this road too exclusionary, or costly, for those who aspire to participate fully in our democracy.

Keeping up the pressure on Congress, Alliance for Citizenship member groups supporting comprehensive immigration reform will greet members of Congress heading home during the Memorial Day congressional recess with a wide range of activities and events next week to remind them that there is still work to be done.