Immigrant Advocates Welcome Napolitano Statement, Will Hold House Parties for Reform

Napolitano stokes the hopes of immigration activists, again - Photo: Center for American Progress

Napolitano stokes the hopes of immigration activists, again. (Photo: Center for American Progress)

Organizations working for comprehensive immigration reform welcomed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s statement on Friday that Congress needs to move forward with an immigration overhaul early in 2010. This week they intend to build momentum toward the coming debate –and respond to this weekend’s conservative Tea Parties— with their own version of the house parties that are becoming the hippest grassroots political organizing tool.

Several organizations welcomed the news coming from Washington with statements on their websites.

Reform Immigration for America (RI4A), an umbrella group of dozens of organizations, said it’s “ready to partner with Secretary Napolitano and the administration as they push for comprehensive immigration reform.”

“We are committed to achieving reform that treats immigrants humanely and fairly, enhances our national security, and puts the undocumented on a path to legal status and eventually citizenship,” campaign manager Rich Stolz said in the statement. “Secretary Napolitano made clear that the political and policy context for reform is decidedly better and different than it was the last time reform was attempted in 2007. Now it is up to the President, Congressional leaders, and us to make reform a reality. We are ready to get to work.”

We could not be more pleased,” Ali Noorani, director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a press release. “Secretary Napolitano demonstrated that she not only has a deep understanding of the complexities of the immigration issue, but that she and the administration expect legislation in early 2010.”

Angela Kelley, vice president for migration policy at the Center for American Progress, which organized the event where Napolitano spoke, said she was not surprised the secretary didn’t offer details of a proposed commission that would determine numbers for future immigration flows, according to Los Angeles newspaper La Opinión. Kelley said the commission is a “smart idea that needs more research,” but that it will be one of the key issues in the upcoming debate.

CAUSA, an Oregon immigrant-rights group, which is usually on the more combative end of the reform debate, said in a statement by executive director Francisco Lopez that “…although Secretary Napolitano continues to express support for enforcement policies that have proven to do more harm than good, she did acknowledge today that it is time to move beyond the failed enforcement-only strategy of the past 10 years and begin the process of fixing the system.”

To continue building momentum, pro-reform activists will gather at house parties across the country this Wednesday at 8 pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. They will then join a “virtual town hall” with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D.-Ill.), one of the most outspoken supporters of immigration reform in Congress, to “discuss the principles of progressive immigration reform.” The event, which will feature both English and Spanish-speaking parties, is organized by RI4A.

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