Immigration Reform Activists Keep the Pressure On

New America Media, News report, Elena Shore Posted: Apr 08, 2010

Some say this is the wrong time to talk about immigration reform. Congress just passed a huge overhaul of the nation’s health care system; Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem more divided than ever; the country is still in a recession; and it’s an election year.

But with the decks seemingly stacked against them, immigration reform advocates told members of the U.S. ethnic media Monday that they intend to keep up the pressure on legislators to enact immigration reform in 2010.

Congress is now “very fraught with partisan divides and, in the shambles of the health care debate, a lot of animosity,” Jeanne Butterfield, legislative director of the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign, acknowledged during a telebriefing organized by New America Media.

Yet immigrant communities are “virtually under siege, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions coming down on people’s heads on a daily basis,” she said.

There is “huge momentum coming out of [March] 21st,” when 200,000 people marched in Washington, D.C., to demand immigration reform, said Gabe Gonzalez of the Center for Community Change.

The rallies in Washington, D.C., and other cities showed that “communities everywhere are ready to engage in a battle of epic proportions,” according to Jorge-Mario Cabrera, communications director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) in Los Angeles.

In order to remind Congress that immigration reform must be a priority, Gonzalez said his organization is keeping in “constant contact” with legislators; participating in rallies on April 10 in Seattle, Chicago and Las Vegas; and issuing report cards to members of Congress on May 1, the day when widespread demonstrations in support of immigration reform are expected to take place across the country.

A recent op-ed in the Washington Post, written by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham, the two senators who are proposing immigration reform, was another step forward, said advocates of immigration reform. President Obama singled out that proposal as a starting point for reform in his videotaped message to the rallies on March 21.

“We were happy to see them advance the ball another few yards,” said Karen Narasaki, president of the Asian American Justice Center.

Some immigration activists have expressed concern that the op-ed was too conservative and did not bode well for any ultimate bill. Butterfield said that the op-ed was “heavy on enforcement language,” but this, she said, was because “it was talking to an unconvinced public or middle, swing voters perhaps, who need to understand that fixing the broken system is in fact the best way to assure that we have a set of laws that can be enforced.”

The Schumer-Graham blueprint also does not mention fixing the family visa system, a key concern for many Asian communities. According to Narasaki, however, this part of the proposal will be outlined after looking at the issue of how to expand the number of work visas.

A report released last week by the Office of the Inspector General found that the agencies participating in the 287(g) program -- which authorizes local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws – were “not operating in compliance with the terms of the agreements” and that ICE “had not instituted controls to promote effective program operations and address related risks.”

In other words, Butterfield said, the report found that the 287(g) program “lacked accountability and oversight,” and gave a “scathing indictment of 287(g).” What comes of the report remains to be seen. But activists took that as further proof of the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

But some are skeptical that immigration reform could be enacted before the November elections.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., recently said the best time to enact immigration reform would be “in November, right after the elections.”

“I think there are a bunch of people who are retiring who would cast votes (because) their heart and their intellect tell them it is the right thing, but their politics might have told them no,” Menedez told the New Jersey Star-Ledger last week.

For now, the possibility of bipartisan reform looks slim. According to Butterfield, there are only 10 to 12 Republicans who have either voted for comprehensive immigration reform in the past or are considered possible supporters this time around.

For a bill that depends on bipartisan support, this could be problematic.

But it’s a “chicken and egg” scenario, cautioned Butterfield: Senators will tend to support a bill that they think has the potential to move; but in order to move, the bill needs to have enough support.

“The math has to add up to 60” in order to pass the bill in the Senate, said Butterfield, “so however many Democrats we don’t get, that’s how many Republicans we need.”

Meanwhile, on the ground, ICE actions are continuing under the Obama administration in high numbers. Recently publicized ICE memos suggest that the agency is setting new quotas for agents to increase deportations.

“The perception in this Latino community,” said Leslie Layton, editor of ChicoSol in Chico, Calif., “is that it’s retaliation for the rallies in March.”

Cabrera of CHIRLA, who was among a cohort of immigrant rights leaders that met with Obama at the White House last month, said that according to the president’s own statements, it appears that the ICE actions will not stop. The fact that there was no moratorium on ICE raids for the 2010 Census, Cabrera added, shows that the agency has no plans to halt enforcement.

“The response [from the president] is, ‘What do you want me to do? Not enforce the law?’” said Cabrera. “We say, ‘It’s hard to enforce unjust laws justly.’”

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User Comments

Juliee on Apr 13, 2010 at 16:04:57 said:

Americans keep hammering our leaders!!
No amnesty until there are jobs for citizens.

Spike on Apr 12, 2010 at 09:47:14 said:

"To those saying 'No Amnesty', I hope your maker allows you a little 'Amnesty'."

David, such is the hope of a fool who confuses repentence and blood bought grace with grading on a curve.

John 10:1 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."

Spike on Apr 12, 2010 at 09:38:46 said:

"Immigrant communities are “virtually under siege, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions coming down on people’s heads on a daily basis".
Boo hoo. They wouldn't have that problem if they weren't illegally invading and taking things that they've no right to but feel entitled to, now would they, Jeannie?

Still the liberal heart bleeds, "It's not the criminal's fault, society's to blame."

Durendal55 on Apr 09, 2010 at 07:11:16 said:

Let’s look at the claim that the increased use of E-Verify made this the “worst recession in U.S. History”. The use of E-Verify was actually significantly ramped up on October 1, 2007. In September of 2007 total USA Employment stood at 146.4 million people working. Ten months later in July of 2008 total USA Employment had increased to 146.9 million people employed. Net gain – a half million more jobs. Not bad for a job market supposedly “crushed” by the ramp-up of E-Verify.

It was not until August 2008 that the number of employed people in America began to drop, which coincided precisely with the onset of the worst of the housing market crash in USA history. From August 2008 to February 2010 USA Employment fell by 9.7 million people to 137.2 million people working in the USA. During that time we went from 14.6 million Americans looking for work to 22.1 million Americans looking for work with an additional 1.2 million Americans dropping from the job market per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Pew Center during the same time the number of working Illegal Immigrants declined from 8.5 million to 7.5 million.

The claim that E-Verify caused 8.7 million American workers to loose their jobs, especially when there were already 14.6 million Americans unemployed and available to fill any jobs opened up because of E-Verify is a statistical joke. Especially when you consider that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data of that time most of the unemployed lost jobs in the same professions as the Pew Center rates as employing the most Illegal Immigrants. The tail does not wag the dog.

l00ker on Apr 08, 2010 at 18:02:35 said:

Like who are these illegal parasites pressuring, because they aren't changing any minds, yet the traitors like this Gutierrez SOB will soon be pounding the pavement.

David Francis on Apr 08, 2010 at 12:40:10 said:

The Immigration battle against the--WIDE--open borders movement is supported heavily by wealthy corporate owners, the congregational church and lobbyists.
Numbersusa is fighting for--ALL--American citizens and legal residents. Eight million illegal immigrants have jobs because of parasite businesses, while our government does nothing about the 15 million US unemployed AMERICANS.WE CANNOT TRUST OUR GOVERNMENT AND THOSE WHO BUY THEIR LOYALTY. USE YOUR VOTE TO SPEAK UP. JOIN NUMBERSUSA million of members to fight the battle against another MASS AMNESTY. Whatever the other-side calls it, it is by any name AMNESTY. Together--UNITED--we can stop this travesty of our Immigration laws. We can win if we unite together. REMEMBER ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS THAT HAVE ALREADY VIOLATED THE LAW, WILL WITHOUT ANY DOUBT VOTE IN ANY ELECTION. MILLIONS MORE WILL COME IF WE DON'T HALT IT. THE CONSEQUENCES WILL BE TERRIBLE, TO AMERICAS FINANCES. Read about corruption of our leaders at Show an example of panderers to the illegal alien occupation of our country. THROW OUT SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV) in the midterm elections. This will show that intentionally manipulated polling is just is BS and we cannot lay back on our rear ends. It will influence your lives in the immediate future with third world scorn of our laws and introduce even more poverty, more deterioration of our language and a constitutional rights.

David Nichols on Apr 08, 2010 at 12:25:36 said:

No Immigration Reform in 2010?

No Economic Recovery this Decade?

David Nichols on Apr 08, 2010 at 12:19:13 said:

January 2008 = Start of the I.C.E. Deportaions.

January 2008 = Start of the "Worst Recession in U.S. History."

This is No Co-incidence, all States that Deported or Starved away their Hard Working "Huuman" Tax Base , are now in Total Economic Disaster!

These States are now having to cut Government Services to match their now smaller Tax Bases!

The E-vrify Law and the I.C.E. Program have crashed our Country, and put America backwards regaurding Racism and Hate about 50 years.

"Magic Repair for our Broken Economy"? Fix what Really Broke it! The Lack of Responsible Immigration Reform in 2007.

A wise French Historian Said: "America is great because it is good, when it ceases to be good it ceases to be great."

Deporting Good Hard Working "Humans", from their "Legal Citizen Children", and Secretly Incarrcerating Women and their small Children in small jail cells with out windows Indefinetly, can not be considered as Good in any Country!

To those bashing our own Citizen Children, this is simply Anti-American.

To those wanting to deport the Good Hard Working Parents of our Citizen Children, this is simply Evil.

To those saying "No Amnesty", I hope your maker allows you a little "Amnesty".

To: Good and Brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

Christian in Austin on Apr 08, 2010 at 11:54:32 said:

WE NEED THIS TO PASS! You are hearing this from a 31/white male! It will be good for the US economy. Now these "illegals" will be paying taxes on top of the fine that they have to pay. THIS WILL BOOST OUR ECONOMY.

As far as competing goes? WHAT? HUH? They already have jobs and cannot even compete for jobs these Americans are qualified for. PASS IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW. NO MORE FAMILIES NEED TO BE SPLIT!

Green Card on Apr 08, 2010 at 11:36:01 said:

From a humanitarian perspective, our fellow human beings, who migrate to support their families, continue to suffer at the hands of immigration policies that separate them from family members and drive them into remote parts of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths. This suffering should not continue.

Now is the time to address this pressing humanitarian issue which affects so many lives and undermines basic human dignity. Our society should no longer tolerate a status quo that perpetuates a permanent underclass of persons and benefits from their labor without offering them legal protections.

jerseycityjoan on Apr 08, 2010 at 10:14:34 said:

Speaking of being "under siege, "I think many Americans here legally feel under siege too.

We worry about our jobs, our economy and our future every day. I don't think you'll find too many people are eager to add to our list of worries and financial burdens, which is what you're asking us to do.

jerseycityjoan on Apr 08, 2010 at 10:05:18 said:

Speaking of being "under siege, "I think many Americans here legally feel under siege too.

We worry about our jobs, our economy and our future every day. I don't think you'll find too many people are eager to add to our list of worries and financial burdens, which is what you're asking us to do.

Durendal55 on Apr 08, 2010 at 09:29:22 said:

Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Unemployment Report of April 2, 2010:

Construction and extraction occupations = 24.6% Unemployment
Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations = 21.8% Unemployment
Production occupations = 16.1% Unemployment
Transportation, material moving occupations = 15.6% Unemployment
Service occupations = 10.3% Unemployment

Total US Unemployed Citizens and Legal Residents = 15,005,000
This figure excludes 6,044,000 Persons who want a job but are left out for various reasons.
Total Number of Americans Looking for Work = 21,049,000

Pew Center estimates indicate 7.5 million Illegal Immigrants work in the USA with the majority employed in agriculture, office and house cleaning, construction, and food preparation, where the worst unemployment is.

The unemployment rate for Black Men 20 and over is 19.0% and for Black Women 20 and over it is 12.4%. For Black Men and Women less than 20 the unemployment rate is 41.1%.
The unemployment rate for Latino Men 20 and over is 12.8% and for Latino Women 20 and over it is 12.0%. For Latino Men and Women less than 20 the unemployment rate is 30.1%.

Meanwhile Management, professional, and related occupations = 4.7% Unemployment

Illegal Immigrants compete directly with Americans for jobs. Illegal Immigration has had a devastating effect on our Citizen and Legal Resident workforce. Especially for Black and Latino Americans. Where is the justice in such law-breaking behavior when so many innocent Americans suffer?

Emma on Apr 08, 2010 at 03:40:08 said:

The Democrats try to blame the Republicans for their inaction on immigration reform, but the fact is that there are 57 Democrats plus two pro immigration reform independents (Lieberman and Sanders)plus Lindsey Graham which equals sixty votes. Also, there are some good Republicans who would jump on the bandwagon if they saw that there was a centrist immigration bill on the table.
The Democrats will most likely lose seats in November, so Sen. Bob Menendez is very deceptive when he says that AFTER the November is a good time to enact immigration reform.
If Obama showed some leadership, the votes would be there before the midterm elections.




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