by Moses Apsan, Esq.
All over the United States, thousands are gathering calling for comprehensive immigration reform in 2010. It’s not just the voice of illegal immigrants that are pushing so hard, but every-day Americans, newspapers, universities, unions, businesses, political and religious leaders are also forcefully arguing the need for immigration reform.
On Saturday, in cities across the country immigration reform advocates gathered to call for immigration reform this year. In Las Vegas, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, El Paso, New York and Lakewood people gathered and voiced their view that the time for compressive immigration is now.
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In the Las Vegas rally, Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, told a high-spirited group of some 6,000 that Congress would begin on an immigration overhaul as soon as lawmakers return this week from a recess. “We’re going to come back, we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform now,” Reid said. “We need to do this year. We cannot wait. I’ve got 59 Democratic senators, all but three would support this, and I want a handful of Republicans, a few Republicans, let them step forward.” “
At the rally, Reid took the appropriate ground, concurrently delineation a path to citizenship and talking about enforcing American borders. Under his ideal legislation, to gain legal status immigrants would pay “a penalty and a fine, people will have to work, stay out of trouble, pay taxes, learn English.” He also tied immigration reform to the economic recovery, saying, “It is about jobs. It is about getting people back to work, getting our economy back on track and helping it grow.”
Reid was seen by many as stepping in as another leader in the drive for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate. Perhaps taking over the vacuum left by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death earlier this year. “Immigration reform has the same features of justice health care did,” Reid said.
At about the same time, a rally in Chicago drew more than 1,000 people Senator Richard J. Durbin, (D-Ill), resonated Mr. Reid’s promise work on an overhaul this year. Mr. Durbin said, “We need that same determination and that same commitment to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.”
He promised to work in a bi-partisan fashion and bring Republicans to support the legislation. “That is our challenge,” Mr. Durbin told the rally in Chicago, “to bring together the Democratic voices as well as good-thinking Republicans to make this a reality of immigration reform. We can do this.”
There is already a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform that was presented to President Obama, several weeks ago by Senators Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), and Charles E. Schumer, (D-NY), They have been developing an immigration bill for many months. The plan focuses on a national identity card for workers that would prevent unauthorized workers from getting job and would also offer a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
In a few California cities, members of the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest labor organizations which supports comprehensive immigration reform, protested Thursday and Friday in front of Department of Homeland Security offices.
Executive vice president of the union, Eliseo Medina, said they had been expecting Mr. Obama to stop aggressive enforcement and cancel Section 287 (g) but that has not been done. Section 287(g), is a program that permits state and local law enforcement entity join with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and receive a grant of delegated authority for immigration enforcement.
Mr. Medina complained that there are thousands of immigrants in the union who do not have permission to work and were fired from jobs while agrresive deportation tactics continues.
“It’s pretty clear that our optimism about a change of policy was misplaced,” Mr. Medina said. “What they are doing makes no sense, so we are just basically mobilizing to fight back.”
In Seattle, some 8,000 people rallied in Pioneer Square, Executive Director of the Washington group One America, Pramila Jayapal worked the crowd into almost a frenzy.
“This is our moment,” Jayapal told a boisterous crowd as the protracted rally came to a close. “Congress will never make anything happen on their own; it is the people who will make immigration reform happen. Movements make things happen.”