Immigrant Activists March on ICE on Day After Inauguration

New America Media, News Analysis, Marcelo Ballv Posted: Jan 21, 2009

Editor's Note: Immigrant advocates wasted no time in pressing their agenda of reform, organizing a march the day after Pres. Barack Obama's inauguration to counter what they anticipate will be an aggressive campaign by opponents. NAM contributing writer Marcelo Ballave explains the issues at stake.

Even as the masses celebrating President Obama's inauguration dispersed, a new crowd gathered Wednesday for a day-after march to place immigrant rights atop the president's agenda.

Immigrant advocates know their nativist opponents plan to deploy online organizing and viral communication to counter any attempts at immigration reform this year. They intend to seize every opportunity to build momentum on their side.

The pro-immigrant activists, many immigrants themselves, marched on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters to remind the fledgling administration of their demand for a "just and humane" immigration policy.

"It's an opportunity to celebrate, but also to point forward to the great need for immigration reform in the months ahead," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum.

Immigrant advocates believe Pres. Barack Obama will stick to his promise to begin work on comprehensive immigration reform in his first year in office. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said the immigration system is "broken." And even before a major overhaul is proposed, activists hope for changes to some of the most criticized aspects of current immigration policy.

These may include the huge backlog in naturalization requests, the workplace raids that have sown chaos in immigrant communities, inhumane detention centers, or the "287(g)" program, which delegates immigration enforcement to state troopers, county sheriffs or local police.

The activists that gathered outside ICE headquarters were guided by interdenominational religious leaders in a "ceremonial cleansing," marking what they hope will be the agency's shift away from what they deem an "enforcement-only" approach.

The event was organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a coalition of state-level and national groups working for comprehensive immigration reform. FIRM also ran an ad campaign on signs atop Washington, D.C. cabs that showed real immigrants' faces and said: "Mr. President, count on me." Also distributed were T-shirts and signs bearing the slogan, "I am immigrant America."

FIRM's blog on Inauguration Day noted that in his inaugural address, Obama "spoke of a country that ensures freedom for all Now, its our time to make sure that the same freedom and the same values include the immigrants of America."

The post-inaugural march is only a beginning. Immigrant advocates spoke about the need for maintaining momentum in the first months of Obama's administration. Though they perceive the new administration as sympathetic and staffed with some prominent supporters of their cause (most notably Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Muoz, a veteran of the immigration reform movement) they don't want to let their guard down.

Across the country, advocates plan for more actions, coordinated through an increasingly sophisticated communications network, to build a groundswell in favor of reform. For example, on Jan. 22 on Long Island, a hotspot in the immigration wars, the ecumenical Council of Churches plans to release a major statement on the need for "immigration solutions."

High-ranking elected officials, including Republicans, seem to be echoing activists' renewed call for an immigration overhaul, despite the country's economic woes and the failure of an immigration reform law in the U.S. Senate as recently as the summer of 2007.

Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state, has said the failure of immigration reform, which she considered important to national security, was her biggest regret. Republican senators Mel Martinez and John McCain have both said they feel their party must tone down some members' hard-line rhetoric on immigration in order to be competitive among immigrant voters.

Meanwhile, the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has placed what looks to be a sketch of a comprehensive immigration reform bill on its list of 10 pieces of legislation with which it hopes to kick off Congress under the new president, according to American Prospect magazine.

Any immigration reform package is expected to include some sort of path to citizenship for the country's estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, even if it is after they are made to wait at "the back of the line"-- behind those who applied through the usual channels.

For this reason, those who favor strict immigration restrictions typically oppose any attempt to change immigration laws, even if the new legislation also includes tougher border security and enforcement measures. They see reform as an excuse to deliver amnesty to illegal immigrants. The restrictionists, as they are known, who are at least as well-organized and politically savvy as the pro-reform activists, have successfully torpedoed past attempts to overhaul immigration by jamming legislative phone lines and inboxes with their petition and letter-writing drives.

The result of this year's immigration wars may come down to which side puts in place the more robust and technologically sophisticated grassroots political network. is one online group already established to fight Obama's agenda. It has begun organizing around specific immigration-related campaigns, such as the group's petition to Congress to finish the border fence, with close to 280,000 signatures. Grassfire's omnibus petition declaring resistance to Obama's agenda reads in part, "I resist ... open border anarchy, including amnesty for illegal aliens and promotion of multi-nation 'unions.'"

Immigration Activists Battle Harsh Laws Across U.S.

Immigrant Worker at Latino Inaugural Ball Shares Hopes for Obama Era

Undocumented Students Raise Voices Online for DREAM Act

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User Comments

Ignacio on Feb 17, 2009 at 12:46:51 said:

DeVeras - You have almost done your homework. After your list, the reality is much different. It is much easier to immigrate to Mexico than it is the United States, temporary immigration is allowed for up to 6 months out of a year. Mexico does not have Welfare. The right to vote is reserved to Citizens only, including the USA. Non-citizens cannot hold office, even in the USA. Investing in Mexico sounds like is very cheap, in the US it requires at least $1 Million USD. Mexico does not have true freedom of speech and it applies to both citizens and non-citizens. After the list you put out, I have to tell you that there are "unofficially" over 1 million US citizens living in Mexico who have overstayed their allowable 6 months time and Mexico has chosen not to do anything about it. In fact, they have been welcome by the govt and Mexican citizens. They are not being prosecuted and they are not being jailed. And yes, most of them are working illegally. Everything that you say about the Mexicans illegally in the US you can say about the US citizens living in Mexico, even the part where their communities function mostly in English. What would you like the Mexican gov't to do with these US citizens?

De Veras on Feb 15, 2009 at 09:35:22 said:

New Immigration Laws: Read to the bottom or you will miss the message...
1. There will be no special bilingual programs in the schools.
* * * * * * * *
2. All ballots will be in this nation's language.
* * * * * * * *
3. All government business will be conducted in our language.
* * * * * * * *
4. Non-residents will NOT have the right to vote no matter how long they are here.
* * * * * * * *
5.. Non-citizens will NEVER be able to hold political office
* * * * * * * *
6. Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers. No welfare, no food stamps, no health care, or other government assistance programs. Any burden will! Be deported.
* * * * * * * *
7. Foreigners can invest in this country, but it must be an amount at least equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage.
* * * * * * * *
8. If foreigners come here and buy land... options will be restricted. Certain parcels including waterfront property are reserved for citizens naturally born into this country.
* * * * * * * *
9. Foreigners may have no protests; no demonstrations, no waving of a foreign flag, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. These will lead to deportation.
* * * * * * * *
10. If you do come to this country illegally, you will be actively hunted &, when caught, sent to jail until your deportation can be arranged. All assets will be taken from you.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Too strict?.......
The above laws are current immigration laws of MEXICO !!!
These sound fine to me, NOW, how can we get these laws to be America 's immigration laws??

Richter on Jan 29, 2009 at 22:03:10 said:

many of you are spewing hate for the sake of hate. Get some help and ask for forgiveness from God. I've seen this hate from the Third Reich and it cost over 7 million Jewish lives, and a total of over 50 million lives. May God forgive you.

Richter on Jan 29, 2009 at 21:49:40 said:

How sad, that these people are full of hate. Where were they when they should have stood for the right thing. Thrive on your hate, I've seen hate like this from the Third Reich, and I hope you drown on your bile.

John on Jan 26, 2009 at 05:02:36 said:

Immigrants are humans. What if documentation is opened to all immigrants for one month? The US history prove that George Washington was an Immigrant also, but all Americans are immigrants. All immigrants should be treated equally like Americans. Many Immigrants would like to participate in solving economic issues when freedom is given to them by legalizing them through documentation. There are many opportunies for the United States of America to succeed when immigrants are given rights.

Ping on Jan 24, 2009 at 23:12:13 said:

No, many or most of us are NOT immigrants. I was born here to US citizen parents. You may be an immigrant, but I am not. Get yourself a dictionary; I think you will be surprised by the definition of "immigrant."

nativessayno on Jan 23, 2009 at 11:14:29 said:

klum, you know of,and about many generalizations. Did you know that some Native Americans owned African slaves? Did you know that beginning in 1526 the native people of Hispanola and some escaped slaves enmeshed?

As an American Indian woman, I resent when our tribal peoples are corraled together to make some pithy rhetorical "statement" regarding illegal immigration; pro or anti.

There are historical events that simply can not solidly support either position, so while the rhetoric is flashy; you seem to know nothing about American history besides obvious and handy references.

Certain tribes coexisted with Latinos, others were sworn enemies. It simply does not go into tidy compartments for citations or evidence of anything about immigration then or now.

We are all immigrants: thus let the new illegal ones plan and execute your immigration policy for the existing ones. A very weak analysis at best.

BTW, NumbersUSA the url I use to keep me informed on legislation and assists me in sending letters, faxes etc to my representatives; states clearly on its homepage that they reject race bashing, etc.

There is obviously more than one brand of "activist" people!

Bobby on Jan 22, 2009 at 16:17:49 said:

klum, i can only assume you are one of the far left idiots. You people just can't stop spreading your lies. Infectious diseases were not identified as such during the era your babbling about. No one knew about germs on blankets, and you know it. True, black people were sold into slavery, BY OTHER BLACK PEOPLE. You didn't assume, did you, that the slave traders simply knew were to find people and threw nets over them. Having said this, of course slavery is wrong. Most of the slaves since the beginning of the world have been white people and other people, not just blacks, professor klum. You leftist idiots are going to destroy this world, not save it. President Obama will do the right thing if he enforces existing immigration law. Bush didn't and you leftists still hated him, What was your excuse then? As I said you idiots will destroy this nation.

klum on Jan 22, 2009 at 15:24:05 said:

America belongs to Native Americans.Everyone is an immigrant in one way or another(White folks came over to this country from Britain and Europe and wiped all the native indians by killing them and infecting them with infectious diseases so that they can take over there God given Land and in addition went to west Africa and took over black people from there (resouceful land) ancesteral land to work for them and treat them like donkeys and finally linch them. Colombus brought all this problems claiming that he he discovred \"America\".So its time people think real hard.Everyone is an immigrant and needs to be treated right jst like any other human being.So Obama the office is yours you and the congress is to decide what to with this immigration Reform Agenda.

viola on Jan 21, 2009 at 23:32:16 said:

Abama can not just give illegal immigrants what they want in America, they had already made a big mess, they are in the front line to almost everything, that they not in reality entitle to, leaving American citizen second in line to everything, any kind of comprehensive program, will only allow them to continue to do what they are doing now, they will never get out of the way of American citizens, in many employment in America, because of them, there are no real diversity, because our American employers are hiring many illegal and legal immigrants.
this is because ceo's management, supervisors seemed to be mostly Hispanics,so they almost always hire their Hispanic race!

Many of us American citizens see this, but are not allow to say anything, no matter who you talk to they all are in denial, this is just so ignored, and is on a Hush! Hush!

All this is leaving so much of America, mainly border states looking like Mexico!!

Abama just can not give illegal immigrants what they want, because they are conquering America in their own sneaky way. besides there have been many illegal immigrants deported, why not many more of them???

Any kind of of comprehensive program will just excuse all their wrong doing in America,
a free ticket for them to combine themselves with their legal Hispanic and become the over populated race in America, they are already pushing this with the help of our American birthright laws, they are abusing this for their own purpose,making their children born automatic American citizens, just multiplying themselves into instant American citizens, helping their race to become the over populated race in America, just a sneaking way of taking over America.

All of what they do now, and will do when they are giving America, America is doomed, and will continue to be doomed!!

We as American do realize that American is an immigrant country! We also realize that this is a country of laws!!

Our president and congress, governors can not continue to say yes, and allow illegal immigrants to just spit and walk all over American citizen as though they don't exist!!!

Larry D. on Jan 21, 2009 at 22:25:29 said:

To MdeG:

Anybody who supports lawbreakers should hang their head in shame.

lance sjogren on Jan 21, 2009 at 22:22:57 said:

\\\"For this reason, those who favor strict immigration restrictions typically oppose any attempt to change immigration laws, even if the new legislation also includes tougher border security and enforcement measures.\\\"

Well, of course pro-enforcement advocates have opposed all recent major thrusts in Congress to change the immigration laws, since those efforts have consisted of the following:

1). Amnesty for illegal aliens, including all sorts of absurd provisions such as the lack of any genuine background checks

2). Allowing illegal aliens to bring in their families. (great, just what we need- more low-skilled workers to increase our unemployment rate, and more demands on public services such as K-12 education and health care.

3). Massive expansion of legal immigration programs for foreign \\\"guest\\\" workers and relatives of existing immigrants.

4). Enforcement provisions that are little more than window dressing, added in in order to attempt to fool the public that \\\"comprehensive immigration reform\\\" is actually any sort of honest attempt to reform the system.

And, the enforcement provisions, feeble as they may be, won\\\'t be honored anyway. Look at how the amnesty crowd has gutted the enforcement provisions that were part of the 1986 amnesty bill.

Open-borders politicians are congenital liars and never honor their committments.

Please stop insulting the intelligence of the American people by continuing to attempt to push these immigration \\\"reforms\\\" that are dishonest and destructive.

And by the way, the open-borders wacko (John McCain) lost the election.

You guys lost the election. If you wanted open-borders, McCain was da man.

Obama supports CIR (as a Democratic candidate, not to would be blasphemy, even if he is intelligent enough to know that \\\"comprehensive immigration reform\\\" is rotten policy).

Even if Obama truly believes in CIR, he is not an extremist fanatic about it like McCain is. And, unlike McCain, Obama knows full well that the American people are against it. The reason I know that is that Rahm Emanuel has made it crystal clear in statements he has made in past years that to push CIR would be a disaster for the Democrats.

(If CIR passed Congress and was signed into law by a half-wit Republican in the White House, Democrats would be able to pin some of the blame on the half-wit. With Democrats now fully in power, they know full well that full wrath of the American people will fall on them if they dare to pass a CIR bill.)

There will be no Amnesty bill. Democrats like being in power and are not going to give it up in order to make a handful of anarchists and sweatshop owners happy, and, by doing so, be thrown out of office in 2010 and 2012.

lance sjogren on Jan 21, 2009 at 22:05:49 said:

\"Nativist opponents\"?

When an article exhibits such a brazen indifference to the truth, it simply pegs NAM as a media outlet of the leftist crackpot fringe.

Does anyone actually take this sort of articles seriously?

no way no how on Jan 21, 2009 at 21:19:34 said:

i believe obama is going to do the right thing and start sending them back..."you have to earn the right to be an american not steal it".

Black Cat on Jan 21, 2009 at 20:35:08 said:

The California Governor claims he has a FINANCIAL EMERGENCY/ARMAGEDDON, yet he refuses to address the issue of illegal aliens and they're costing our state a fortune....Schools are ALWAYS crying for money, but I think they're doing quite well when they can educate illegal aliens (people who are NOT supposed to be here), have signs visible from the street advertising (COMIDAS GRATIS) and do NOT object to the DREAM Act.

Noam Nesty on Jan 21, 2009 at 19:01:37 said:

There are more reasons to deny them than there are to permit them. And look at what they've cost our country already.

Americans aren't foolish enough to allow the continuing stream of criminals and curs that Mexico has been importing for over a decade. There has to be a sudden halt and a swift reversal to this mayhem.


Bobby on Jan 21, 2009 at 18:05:53 said:

MdeG, thinks the law can be picked at, the way vultures pick at carrion. Question: since we already have existing immigration law, who the hell are you to be the judge and jury concerning which parts you like or don't like of existing immigration law. You are intolerant of the law. You are exhibiting criminal tendencies. You remind me of those thugs in prison, who,NOPE I'M NOT GUILTY, YOU SEE SOMEONE ELSE DID IT. SOME PEOPLE JUST CAN'T FACE THE REALITY OF THE LAW. AMERICANS CAN'T LET THESE ANARCHISTS RUIN THE NATION THAT THEY OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO RESPECT FOR.

Bobby on Jan 21, 2009 at 18:00:19 said:

I never get tired of Buzz, who is advocating, enforcement of existing U.S. immigration law--unlike the traitors to America laws and people who advocate for illegal immigration. DEPORT ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS POST HASTE. GET THEM ON THE FASTEST AND THE CHEAPEST THING SMOKIN HEADE SOUTH--USUALLY TO MEXICO.

MdeG on Jan 21, 2009 at 16:08:41 said:

Buzz, haven't you yet died of boredom from listening to your own repetitions?

I wasn't there, but I support the marchers. And yes, there is such a thing as an immigrant American. And yes, if you're in the legal immigration system you may have plenty to gripe about. It's a mess, and badly in need of reform.

The display of intolerance in these comments does **not** make me proud to call myself an American. But I am -- and I'm here to say y'all don't speak for me.

Buzzm1 on Jan 21, 2009 at 14:03:01 said:



Illegals, using forged, and/or stolen identities, have illegally obtained up to 8.7 million jobs; these are jobs that Americans will do, jobs in food processing, jobs in manufacturing; these are jobs that rightfully belonged to American workers in the first place.


Buzzm1 on Jan 21, 2009 at 13:59:59 said:




#1. Make Illegal Entry a Felony Permanently Barring Citizenship
#2. Secure Our Borders with our National Guard!!!
#3. Mandate E-Verify for ALL Employees!!!
#4. Cut Off ALL Public Assistance to Illegals and Their Children!!!
#5. Stop the Underground Economy!!!
#6. End Birthright Citizenship for Illegals!!!
#7. End Chain Migration!!!
#8. Make English our Official Language!!!
#9. Cut Off Federal Funds to Sanctuary Cities!!



Stephen on Jan 21, 2009 at 13:26:28 said:

Our immigration system isn't broken. No system or laws will work unless they are implemented and enforced. Anyone advocating amnesty during this economic recession is either a traitor or a fool. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and homes. Our country is being invaded by criminal foreigners. Vote against any politician that panders to illegal alien lobbyist groups. Americans must insist our borders are secured and our laws are enforced or our country is doomed to becoming a third world cesspool like Mexico.

ALICE VALLIERE on Jan 21, 2009 at 13:17:04 said:

Ali - that's my name as well! I agree our immigration laws are no enforced. Just think if WE AMERICANS (not mexican-american nor african-american) WE AMERICANS refused any medical care or their anchor babies (whoever misinterpreted that law) for these ILLEGAL immigrants (undocumented my butt - ILLEGAL)and imagine the savings if our prison systems in 50 states were rid of all immigrants including those felons who are here illegally - ship them all back. WE DON'T NEED THEM - WE NEED OUR JOBS - WE DON'T WANT THEM - WE SPEAK ENGLISH - GO HOME!
Stop ruining our country with your unwanted CULTURE and to have to push "1" to speak English - what an insult. They've ruined our school systems because they refuse to learn English and we get to pay for that too. GO AWAY - FAR AWAY!

As a taxpayer and the owner of 5 homes in these US - PAYING MAJOR TAXES, I am so angry about paying for them - this government needs to take care of us and to hell with all of them and the rest of this global BS world! Take care of yourselves and suffer!

Debbie on Jan 21, 2009 at 12:57:19 said:

"I am immigrant America."

No honey---you are an illegal alien foreigner.
And a moocher.
Go home and get in line.
If you were a real immigrant you would have
papers to prove it.

Border Patrol on Jan 21, 2009 at 12:42:30 said:

Split families? Take them with you! Illegals think they can run across the border, have a baby here, and then everything is fine and dandy. Take your anchor babies with you and leave!

Ali on Jan 21, 2009 at 12:25:16 said:

Now, what is "just and humane" about lying, cheating and cutting in line to come here? What is "just and humane" about receiving benefits that are paid for by U.S. taxpayers and displacing U.S. workers from jobs that they badly need? What is "just and humane" about letting wealthy countries such as Mexico foist their poor, illiterate population onto us and expecting us to provide for them?

The only thing about our immigration policy that is unjust and inhumane is the failure to enforce immigration laws even handedly.

Tidy Bowl on Jan 21, 2009 at 12:10:22 said:

Tell these nuts to go home and cuddle up with
a tootsie roll.
We don't want amnesty.




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