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Prepping for Sunday’s Immigration March

Prepping for Sunday’s Immigration March

This Sunday, tens of thousands of people plan to march on the National Mall in Washington, DC in an effort to persuade Congress and the Obama administration to tackle immigration reform in 2010. More than 700 buses are bringing an estimated 100,000 supporters to the nation’s capital for the March for America. Participants are hoping to show strength in numbers on the ground, and flex muscle on Capitol Hill as well.

Advocacy groups are organizing countless phone banks and Congressional office visits to encourage lawmakers to support a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the United States.

On top of that, immigrant rights supporters are eager to note that President Barack Obama promised to overhaul the immigration system during his campaign, and said that immigration reform would be a “top priority in my first year as President of the United States of America.” But now that year has passed, and with Congress still deadlocked on health care and economic issues, reform supporters just can’t wait any longer.

While an immigration reform bill has been proposed in the House of Representatives, the same can’t be said for the Senate. If the Senate fails to propose a reform bill this Spring, it won’t be on the agenda for 2010 either. With elections at the end of the year, there’s an aura of uncertainty over how possible it will be to pass reform after that, since the resulting congress could be more conservative.

Keeping a promise

For Obama and the Democratic lawmakers, keeping the promise of immigration reform could be essential to their political future. As Feministing noted this week, “the March is meant to send a message to Congress: immigration reform cannot wait. It’s also a message to President Obama to keep good on his word and push immigration reform.”

Obama’s promise to reform the immigration system helped earn him 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008, exit polls show. Latinos—who make up approximately 15 percent of the U.S. population and are the fastest growing minority in the nation–also delivered Democratic victories in states like Colorado, Florida, and Ohio during that same year.

But with 81 percent of undocumented immigrants in the United States originating from Latin America, a failure to take action on immigration reform could prove disastrous for Democrats and the White House. Numerous polls show that Latino voters want immigration reform, in part because nearly 9 million people in the country live in “mixed-homes,” where some family members are documented and others are not, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

In a story about the upcoming march, TPMDC reports that “organizers of the rally have a simple retort for Democrats: pass reform now, or lose Latino support in November.” The news site quotes march organizer Gabe Gonzalez, who expresses frustration with the slow movement on immigration reform. “I cannot tell you how angry and outraged people are,” she says. “I have conversations with my progressive friends and they’re always surprised at how visceral it is.”

About-face

On the other side of the political spectrum, conservative politicians who do not have a reputation for embracing immigration reform are trying to change course. The population of Latino voters will only continue to grow as children of undocumented immigrants reach voting age. Both Republicans and Democrats are fighting to secure that demographic as a reliable voting bloc.

In 2003, 63 percent of the 4.3 million children born to undocumented parents in the U.S. were citizens. By 2008, there were 5.5 million children in the same situation and 73 percent of them were born in the country. This new generation signifies what could be a significant political shift as Latinos continue to gain prominence and influence in the U.S.

There is a rift on the right when it comes to immigration, as AlterNet explains. “One segment of the Republican Party completely understands that critical political fact. They understand that to compete successfully in the future — on a national scale — they must be able to contest for a sizeable segment of the Hispanic vote. … But there is another group of Republicans who want to use immigration as wedge issue to win short-term political advantage among anxious voters who think of Latinos as threats to their culture, their tax dollars, and their jobs.”

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks notes that both sides of the immigration argument are very passionate. “You got a lot of people in the country saying ‘Aw, we need a border fence, and the damn immigrants are taking our jobs, etc.,’” he says. “On the other side you have people who are in favor of immigration, making it into some sort of sane system.”

Although reform supporters are hopeful that a bill will be proposed in the Senate this Spring, whether it will have a wide bipartisan backing remains to be seen. But with changing demographics and an organized movement for reform, passing immigration reform would empower a reliable–and organized–voting block that is growing more significant by each election. In the end, it could change the political climate of the United States for generations to come.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 

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photo credit: thanks to samir luther via flickr
By Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

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70 comments

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10:32PM PDT on Apr 25, 2010

My comment was cut off ...

Continued ...

Immigrants are "guests" -- that means being here is a PRIVILEGE, NOT A RIGHT!

Got it?! Privilege ... You are NOT entitled to be here!

There are LAWS! Follow them! Don't expect "assistance" in breaking them!

*** All-Caps for EMPHASIS ... I am not shouting! ***

10:27PM PDT on Apr 25, 2010

For those advocating FOR illegal immigration -- SHAME ON YOU!

WHY ARE YOU AIDING & ABETTING CRIMINAL ACTIVITY!?

I am a Naturalized US citizen, an immigrant -- LEGAL! My parents, my siblings & I -- had to wait at least FIVE YEARS to get permission to enter the USA. My parents were required to show that THEY WOULD BE AN ASSET TO THIS COUNTRY! They had to PROVE that they were HEALTHY, LAW-ABIDING people, AND WILLING TO WORK FOR A LIVING! That they had SKILLS that would BENEFIT THE US!! NO HAND-OUTS!

WE LEARNED ENGLISH ... Non of this "Hyphenated-- AMERICAN" Bullshit. No government documents in "our" language ... It was ENGLISH! American first -- (of Russian descent!)

We ALL learned to speak, read & write English. We ALL worked. We ALL had SELF-RESPECT!

Illegal immigration is DRAINING OUR NATION & will eventually TURN THE USA INTO A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY!

WAKE UP, the American dream will turn into THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE! We're halfway there!

NO! TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ...
YES! TO COMMONSENSE ENFORCEMENT OF OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS!

EARN YOUR WAY INTO OUR COUNTRY!
LEARN OUR WAYS & OUR LANGUAGE!
WORK FOR WHAT YOU WANT ...
PUT IN -- BEFORE YOU TAKE OUT!

Don't like it?? -- GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM & CHANGE YOUR COUNTRY TO YOUR LIKING!

Why do you come here & try to change us?!

A guest doesn't demand that the host & hostess CATER TO THEIR WHIMS!

Immigrants are "guests" -- that means being here

8:34AM PDT on Apr 23, 2010

ICE should show up in force and send all the illegal aliens back.

3:45PM PDT on Apr 1, 2010

Thanks for the info!

2:29PM PDT on Mar 26, 2010

I do hope for the sake of all American immigrants that reform will make it to the 2010 agenda and that the reform will be passed. If not, President Obama will be disappointing so many people.

4:27AM PDT on Mar 22, 2010

johan I: "More what, I wonder.
Criminal activities I venture to say!"

You are right, Johan. When I used to visit South Africa in the 1980s I could walk down the streets in the evenings feeling quite safe. I would not feel happy walking down a side street off Market St in Johannesburg in the daylight today!

12:22AM PDT on Mar 22, 2010

The person who pointed out what would happen to illegal immigrants in other countries, has nailed this problem down quite well.
We have the same problem in S.Africa where we have about 5mill. Zimbabweans living in S. Africa, as well as people from Mocambique, Angola and other nations.
The government does absolutely nothing about this except make the appropriate noises on occasion, without anything concrete being done.
The quicker you give these people I>D>'s the quicker they can vote for the ANC which must be one of the most corrupt governments in the world.
We get a few more fat cats and millions more people with absolutely nothing.
By nothing I mean no clean drinking water and certainly no electricity.
We have daily protests against non-service delivery which get more and more violent, yet when it is voting time, the ANC still gets most of the votes because they promise people basic services. Of course they do not give anything except create more fat cats.
People are so gullible that they still believe in the ANC.
After all they say "together we can do more"
More what, I wonder.
Criminal activities I venture to say!

6:07PM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

For those of you FOR illegal immigration....WHY?

6:06PM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

Yes, Debbie Botranger, you have a firm grasp on the situation.

IF YOU CROSS THE NORTH KOREAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET 12 YEARS
HARD LABOR.

IF YOU CROSS THE IRANIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU ARE DETAINED
INDEFINITELY.

IF YOU CROSS THE AFGHAN BORDER ILLEGALLY, YOU GET SHOT.

IF YOU CROSS THE SAUDI ARABIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE
JAILED.

IF YOU CROSS THE CHINESE BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU MAY NEVER BE HEARD
FROM AGAIN.

IF YOU CROSS THE VENEZUELAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE BRANDED
A SPY AND YOUR FATE WILL BE SEALED.

IF YOU CROSS THE CUBAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE THROWN INTO
POLITICAL PRISON TO ROT.

IF YOU CROSS THE U.S. BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET:

1 - A JOB,
2 - A DRIVERS LICENSE,
3 - SOCIAL SECURITY CARD,
4 - WELFARE,
5 - FOOD STAMPS,
6 - CREDIT CARDS
7 - SUBSIDIZED RENT OR A LOAN TO BUY A HOUSE,
8 - FREE EDUCATION,
9 - FREE HEALTH CARE,
10 - A LOBBYIST IN WASHINGTON
11 - BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRINTED IN
YOUR LANGUAGE
12 - AND THE RIGHT TO CARRY YOUR COUNTRY'S FLAG WHILE YOU
PROTEST THAT YOU DON'T GET ENOUGH RESPECT

I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE I HAD A FIRM GRASP ON THE
SITUATION...

5:57PM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

Rhonda, I plan to vote against anyone for amnesty as well.

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