A pathway to citizenship will be at the forefront of several mobilization efforts being launched in the coming months as the president and Congress engage in moving forward on immigration reform.
Days before the president is expected to deliver his State of the Union (SOTU) speech, supporters for immigration reform have already begun announcing their campaigns. The administration took steps this week to assure the community they’re committed in ensuring the 11 million persons who are undocumented that there will be immigration reform.
“We expect him to lay out a range of priorities including immigration reform,” said Frank Sharry of America’s Voice during a conference call in expectation of SOTU.
“Sometimes, in the past we breathlessly counted the number of words and where it was in his speech—to be honest the fact that he went to Las Vegas and threw down the way he did has really mobilized and motivated many of us in the immigration reform movement.”
Said Sharry, “He has already proved that this is going to be his top legislative priority for the first six months of this year.”
President Obama met with business leaders and immigration reform advocates
The president met with business leaders, labor unions and immigration reform advocates earlier this week at the White House to bolster support. The Obama administration indicated that the president would like to see immigration legislation in the next four to six weeks, according to the AP. After the meeting, several groups including the AFL-CIO, one of the largest labor unions, Casa de Maryland, and Center for Community Change have indicated that they will be involved in a nationwide lobbying effort that would take place in a dozen of cities.
The president met with 16 leaders of immigration advocacy groups on Tuesday.
“We are excited that the momentum launched at hyper-speed in November’s election is producing concrete movement. But requiring families to wait, as the Senate would have it, for the full implementation of E-Verify and militarization of the US border with unmanned drones is unfair and not acceptable,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland, in a statement.
“First indications from the House are even worse with Tuesday’s enforcement-dominated hearing. This is why we need the President to lead.”
Some of the advocates contend that they will spotlight a pathway to citizenship as a priority, particularly in light of hesitancy from some Republicans to find a middle ground on citizenship. Groups such as America’s Voice signaled that they are hoping to lobby in order to get legislation passed by the end of July.
AFL-CIO officially launched its campaign to pursue a full pathway to citizenship
AFL-CIO officially launched its campaign to pursue a full pathway to citizenship on Thursday. The campaign will be spotlighted in events across 14 cities with the first kicking off next week on Wednesday in Raleigh, North Carolina. The other cities include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Anaheim, Calif., San Francisco, Miami, St. Paul, Minn., Phoenix, New York City and Chicago.
“What we are fighting for is the ability not for the government to close the doors to citizenship, but for you to be treated like everyone else today,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). “I came to this country undocumented, I became a legal permanent resident, and then I made a choice and my choice was I want to become a citizen.”
“And when I became a citizen, I had more voting power, I had a whole bunch of rights and those rights can’t be negated to a whole population and so that’s what we’re fighting for,” she added.
Among rising concerns for immigration reform supporters who want a pathway for citizenship are the costs and English language requirements. The Pew Research Hispanic Center noted that nearly two-thirds of the 5.4 million immigrants from Mexico who are eligible to become citizens of the United States have not yet taken that step.