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A Peep at the Week’s Activities

April 02, 2010 - Posted by Maurice Belanger


After the massive immigration reform march in Washington a couple of weeks ago, what is happening to continue the pressure on Congress to pass immigration reform?  Here are a few items from around the country from this week’s news.

Last weekend, the Los Angeles Times opined that immigration activists should look to the tea party for lessons on getting attention.

A small but vocal, sign-wielding minority that insists on being heard can capture the nation's attention. It's time for immigration activists to take a leaf from the "birthers," "tea partyers" and "death panel" fear-mongers. Going to Washington was important, as is Saturday's march in Los Angeles. But it's at least as important that supporters of reform go back to their own states, cities and neighborhoods to begin a grass-roots campaign to explain to their fellow citizens the positive effects comprehensive immigration legislation will have on their lives, labor, economy and communities.

Alma Aquino Aguilar, a student from the University of Northern Colorado, came by bus from Colorado to join the 200,000 who marched in Washington on March 21, and are now taking the fight back home.  She told the Greeley (Colorado) Tribune,

"My life has changed 360 degrees. … Sharing the bus with a bunch of strangers opened my eyes about how much easier it is for me as a United States citizen. And I'm now keeping in mind that if I don't keep working for a better America, who is? Who's going to be that voice for them?"

San Jose Mercury News contributing columnist Byron Williams wrote a column on the grassroots action that will be required for comprehensive immigration reform to get through Congress, including action from an unexpected ally.

There is a momentum, as indicated by last week's protest in Washington, for humane immigration policy methodically making its way to Congress. It is a coalition that is as diverse as the nation, including what one might think to be a surprising group: African American pastors.

Concrete example: On Sunday, in Charlotte, North Carolina, one African American pastor worked with immigrant rights groups to protest Mecklenburg County’s participation in ICE’s 287(g) program. 

Little Rock [AME Zion Church] pastor Dwayne Walker said the church was there to live out the creed of "injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere."

Faith groups are becoming increasingly active in pushing Congress to fix our broken immigration system.  In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta and Tom Evans, executive presbyter for the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, wrote,

As Christian clergy, we see the realities faced by many of the most marginalized in our communities; realities shaped by a broken federal immigration system and an increasing amount of local legislation, which create an adverse climate for immigrants, especially our Latino brothers and sisters.

We recognize the urgent need to educate our own congregations and the broader public about the complexities of immigration, with a view towards promoting balanced and fair immigration policy.

In St. Joseph, Missouri, there was a Holy Thursday vigil for immigration reform attended by about 40 persons, who delivered 1,400 post cards to the office of Representative Sam Graves.  This vigil followed a similar event in Kansas City at the office of Senator Claire McCaskill.

Finally for this week, another group that is getting organized around immigration reform is law enforcement.  On Tuesday, in Colorado Springs, there was a regional law enforcement conference to discuss how law enforcement should handle undocumented immigrants at the local level.  Afterwards, Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers told the Colorado Springs Gazette that officers are looking for more guidance from Washington.

“It’s not our job to deal with all the social issues and the political/philosophical aspects, but there needs to be some differentiation between criminal aliens and those who are here undocumented with no other criminal offense,” Myers said.

Happy Easter, and don’t eat too many peeps.


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