Huge rally, health care success raises the question: What would Senator Kennedy do?
Washington, DC – By all accounts, yesterday was a huge day. Over 200,000 people rallied on the mall for comprehensive immigration reform, in a patriotic display of democracy in action, while the U.S. House passed historic health care reform legislation.
At the March for America: Change Takes Courage, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children-many citizens and many future citizens-called on Congress and the White House to enact immigration reform that will help workers, families, communities, businesses-and taxpayers. Meanwhile, the U.S. House was passing health care legislation, proving that Washington can tackle big challenges and deliver on the change they promised.
“Without a doubt, Senator Ted Kennedy would be very proud of yesterday’s historic events,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Two of Kennedy’s great causes – healthcare and immigration reform – took center stage. Now what? Well, Congressional Democrats and the President have disproved conventional wisdom with the historic passage of health care reform. Now it’s time for Congress to chart a course forward to solve other important issues such as immigration reform.”
Recent advances are encouraging. On Friday, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (D-SC) presented a bipartisan blueprint for immigration reform. President Obama and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy praised their effort and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised floor time for the legislation once it comes out of the Judiciary Committee, thus setting the stage for action within Congress.
And unlike other priorities before Congress, comprehensive immigration reform is actually a net benefit to the U.S. taxpayer, because it would add millions of new taxpayers generating billions in new tax revenue to the federal, state, and local tax coffers. Comprehensive immigration reform will add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy, drive up wages for all workers, and support nearly a million jobs.
An outstanding line-up of speakers featured Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, and dozens of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives; leaders from the AFL-CIO, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, UNITE HERE, Service Employees International Union, and United Farm Workers; a diverse array of leaders from the faith and immigrant communities including Cardinal Roger Mahony; civil rights leaders such as Marc Morial of the Urban League and Ben Jealous of the NAACP; and Spanish-media superstars El Piolin and Lucia Mendez took the stage before a huge crowd and called on Congress and the White House to get working on comprehensive immigration reform. In addition, President Obama sent a taped message, saying “I pledge to do everything in my power to forge a bipartisan consensus this year on this important issue.”
Sharry added: “As yesterday’s rally on the mall showed, immigrants and their allies love this country and are just asking for a chance to be part of it. Conventional wisdom was wrong on health care and wrong about the power of a few thousand dedicated Tea Party activists. The pundits should take note that the pro-immigration coalition is a force to be reckoned with. We demonstrated what a real crowd looks like.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.