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This Week in Immigration En Español

October 16, 2009 - Posted by Mario Moreno

Thousands Join Forces with Members of Congress to Push for Reform


More than eight thousand family members, immigrants, clergy, veterans and community activists from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to give testimony of how our broken immigration system is threatening family unity and the urgency of passing comprehensive immigration reform. Members of Congress joined them in their plea for restoring fairness and order to our immigration system and Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) announced progressive principles of his comprehensive immigration reform bill that he plans to introduce later on this fall.


Spanish language press documented the activists’ pilgrimage to our nation’s capital and the reenergized efforts to push for immigration reform.


The Principles:

A story by Spanish newswire EFE focusing on the principles outlined by Representative Gutierrez and calls for immigration reform supporters to continue fighting for a just and workable immigration system.


Gutierrez explained that his immigration reform bill will support earned legalization for those who fulfill certain requirements, family unity, border and internal enforcement; future flow regulations that respond to economic realities and a speedy legalization for farmworkers and undocumented students.


Similar vigils and rallies took place in Los Angeles and San Jose (California), (California), Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia (Pennsilvania), Detroit (Michigan), Seattle (Washington), Minneapolis (Minnesota), and other cities with high Latino populations


In Washington, activists interviewed by EFE mentioned that the events were meant to give momentum to the [immigration reform] negotiations happening in Congress and remind Congress and President Barack Obama their campaign promise to reform our broken immigration system.


“We are here because we don’t want our community to become dormant; we want them to follow the example of the black community that year after year continued fighting for their rights. And we want Obama to remember his promises", said Father Vidal Rivas, from the St. Michael Episcopalian Church in Washington, DC.

In a sea of supporters, Luis Gutierrez delineates his “principles” for reform, October 14, 2009 (Translated by Katherine Vargas)


The Journey:

North Carolina based newspaper Mi Gente describes local send-off events for activists traveling to Washington, D.C. to spread the message that North Carolinians stand firm for immigration reform, and the broad support of local community members from church leaders and civil rights activists to local elected officials:


Their [activists] journey aimed to reach the nation’s capital to participate in the October 13 events where Congressman Luis Gutierrez would introduce the “principles” of his immigration reform bill.


They were welcomed in Greenville not only by other immigrants, but also local elected officials, Caucasian candidates to city council and African American groups that fight racism. 


“There are many ways that we can support their cause, and we can do it by supporting them as they travel from so far away so they can have lobby their legislators” said Ruben Campillo, state director with the [Reform Immigration FOR America] campaign to Mi Gente

Pro-Reform Diversity, October 13, 2009  (Translated by Katherine Vargas)


Why Reform:


Maribel Hastings reminds us in her immigration column at why the President and Congress cannot ignore the urgency for immigration reform:


The reasons [for immigration reform] are humanitarian, legislative and political.


Without reform, we will continue to live in uncertainty, families will continue to be separated and we will continue to enforce immigration laws that do not fundamentally solve our immigration problem.


The issue of illegal immigration will continue to arise in every issue that Congress debates as we have seen in the healthcare debate and in the Census.


Next year is an election year and the legislative window narrows each day.

That’s where the urgency lies. The language better understood by politicians is the language of elections. When they begin calculating their votes for the upcoming elections in 2010 and 2012, they might then understand that inaction will not benefit anyone.

That’s exactly what immigrants hope, particularly immigrant and Latino voters who put their trust in Barack Obama and continue to believe in his word.


Gutierrez explained it like this:

“If we do not introduce a clear and comprehensive immigration reform bill, a bill that the community can believe in, we will demobilize the community. They will stay in their homes. We need to give people hope. If we don’t do it, we will not mobilize our own people, they will not have faith in us and we will not win this battle”.

Immigration Reform: “Without mobilization, we will not win the battle”: Congressman Gutierrez, October 15, 2009

Immigration reform supporters are not ready to give up yet on their fight to achieve an immigration system that upholds our nation’s values, treats immigrants with dignity and responds to our nation’s economic and labor needs. Will Washington listen or will they risk apathy and distrust of an energized and newly engaged political base?


For pictures of the nationwide October 13 events please visit:


For videos of the Washington, D.C vigil please visit:

For coverage of the events on Voice of America (Spanish) please visit:

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