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More Rallies for Reform

April 13, 2010 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Chicago Rally

People continue to raise their voices to pressure Members of Congress to pass immigration reform legislation.  Saturday, thousands of immigration reform advocates rallied in seven cities across the U.S.

The most high-profile event took place in Las Vegas, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid addressed a crowd of several thousand who had gathered downtown.  The immigration reform rally was the largest of those Senator Reid addressed in his two-weeks of campaigning in the state.  Senator Reid did not hedge his positions on immigration reform.  He told the crowd that he thought the Senate needed to take up immigration reform this year.

"There are no excuses. This is something America needs," Reid said. "We're going to do immigration reform just like we did health care reform."

Senator Reid told the crowd that he believed immigration reform would garner the support of all but three Democrats in the Senate, so reform proponents would need only "a handful of Republicans" to get past a filibuster. 

In Seattle's Pioneer Square, there was also a large rally for immigration reform.  People came by bus from all over the state to participate and to hear Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell address the crowd via videotape.  Both Washington Senators support comprehensive immigration reform.  Speaking in person at the rally was U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D).

In Chicago, more than a thousand people turned out for an immigration reform rally.  Senator Richard Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, made a strong pitch for immigration reform,

"In the name of all who fight for social justice, in the name of the families who go to bed with tears in their eyes facing deportation and separation, in their name, we cannot fail. We must pass immigration reform. We must pass it this year," said Durbin.

Senator Durbin echoed Senator Reid's comment that all but a few Democrats would support immigration reform.  Of the President, Senator Durbin said that reform advocates would "need that same determination and that same commitment to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year" as the President showed in the health care reform battle.

Also addressing the reform advocates at the Chicago rally was the President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, who expressed his concern that failure to reform immigration is leading to " a growing yet hidden population in many towns" who avoid reporting crimes for fear of being turned in to immigration authorities. 

"If they are afraid to speak to us because of their status, we are not giving them the protection they deserve," O'Connor said.

In El Paso, more than 1,000 people rallied at the University of Texas and marched to downtown El Paso.  There were also events in Philadelphia, Providence, and Lakewood, New Jersey.

The wave of rallies took place at the end of a two-week Congressional recess.  Pressure will continue to build on Congress to reform the immigration system this year.  More rallies are planned for May 1.

Image: Chicago Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

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