Today They Celebrate, Tomorrow They March For Immigration Reform

*Note: This post includes an update after the march, at the end.

Today is a day for celebration across the land. Tomorrow the real task of governing begins for some, and for others the work of lobbying and pushing for reform starts. Before the dust of the inauguration has time to settle a group of pro-immigrant organizations will hold a march in Washington D.C. for “just and humane” immigration reform. (See more below.)

Latino civil leaders and lobbying organizations intend to keep the issue in the front burner despite a new nationwide poll showing the economy, not immigration, is Latinos’ top concern.

Latino leaders reminded the incoming administration just that Monday during the Latino State of the Union gathering, organized by the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

anewdayforimmigration.org

FIRM banner displayed on D.C. cabs this month. (Photo: anewdayforimmigration.org)

As we’ve reported during this presidential transition, Latino leaders believe that the heavy support Barack Obama received from Hispanic voters must be answered in kind. Comprehensive immigration reform is at the top of their agenda. Monday, they made this clear, as The New York Times’ Fernanda Santos reported.

John Trasviña, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which hosted the event, the second annual Latino State of the Union, a gathering of advocates, civil rights activists and lawmakers representing the interests of the Latino community, said: “We have to take immigration away from the border and present it as an issue of national interest defined by cooperation, rather than confrontation, with Mexico and Latin America.”

It is, Mr. Trasviña said, a question of fostering acceptance of Latinos, who have been victimized by hate, in the hands of perpetrators who attack them because of their ethnicity, and overzealousness, in the hands of local police officers who have been deputized to act as immigration enforcers in communities nationwide.

To reach these goals, Latino organizations are counting on the Obama Administration’s incoming Latino officials, despite the exit of their would-have-been main champion, Bill Richardson. According to the Times, an Obama spokesperson read a statement at Monday’s event where the incoming president acknowledged that Latinos showed “how powerful you are on Nov. 4” and said his cabinet appointments are “a measure of my commitment” to a diverse government.

Latinos, of course, are also taking part in the celebrations. Sunday’s Latino Inaugural Gala drew a crowd of celebrities from the TV and music worlds, plus some less glitzy but more powerful Latino politicians.

Picking up after them was María Pérez, a Salvadoran woman who’s cleaned D.C.’s Union Station for over twenty years.

“I am hope that Barack Obama fix the economia, give more jobs, give better health programs for all the people in America,” she told New America Media‘s Anthony D. Advincula in a mix of English and Spanish. “Of course, I am hope to hear about imigracion.

“We Latinos, we must support Obama. He’s black, but I am dark, too,” Pérez said, smiling.

Pérez is not the only one who expects to “hear about immigration.” Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos ran an open letter to Obama on the network’s website under the headline: “Don’t fail us.”

To start afresh, Ramos wrote, Obama needs to erase the legacy of the Bush years, “the most anti-immigrant era the United States has had, based on the number of raids and deportees.”

FIRM)

FIRM activists in DC (Photo: FIRM)

In addition to tomorrow’s march, some pro-immigrant Latino groups have sent thousands of letters to the Obama White House asking that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and deportations be stopped. The letters are expected to begin arriving on Wednesday.

The march, which will start at Benjamin Banneker Park at 10th & G Streets SW and proceed towards ICE headquarters, is organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and the National Capital Immigration Coalition. [For more information, including how to receive SMS updates, click here.]

According to FIRM’s blog, teams of activists have canvassed the capital in preparation for the march, passing out leaflets and posters with the message, “Reform not raids.”

Update: After the march, The Washington Post reported,

Several hundred immigrant supporters and religious leaders from across the country marched to the Southwest Washington headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency yesterday, strumming guitars, beating drums and waving colorful homemade banners exhorting President Obama to halt immigration raids and promote legislation offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

Read the complete story here.

16 comments

  1. Buzzm1

    Illegals, using forged, and/or stolen identities, have illegally obtained up to 8.7 million jobs; these are jobs that Americans will do, jobs in food processing, jobs in manufacturing; these are jobs that rightfully belonged to American workers in the first place.

    MANDATE E-VERIFY, FOR ALL EMPLOYEES, AND FOR ALL EMPLOYERS, AND IT WILL GENERATE 8.7 MILLION JOBS FOR UNEMPLOYED AMERICAN WORKERS!!!

    ENFORCE OUR LAWS AGAINST ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION!!!

    THERE WILL BE NO AMNESTY!!!

    OUR ACCEPTABLE IMMIGRATION REFORM

    #1. Make Illegal Entry a Felony Permanently Barring Citizenship
    #2. Secure Our Borders with our National Guard!!!
    #3. Mandate E-Verify for ALL Employees!!!
    #4. Cut Off ALL Public Assistance to Illegals and Their Children!!!
    #5. Stop the Underground Economy!!!
    #6. End Birthright Citizenship for Illegals!!!
    #7. End Chain Migration!!!
    #8. Make English our Official Language!!!
    #9. Cut Off Federal Funds to Sanctuary Cities!!

    ALL ILLEGALS NEED TO GO!!!

    NOTHING MORE!!! NOTHING LESS!!!

  2. Cohen

    Racism always loses in America! A comprehensive immigration reform with path to citizenship for hard-working immigrants is a matter of when, not if. It is the right thing to do. The WASP-racist-GOP is out. And if they keep their anti-immigrant stand, they will NEVER win another election! Farewell, Billy Bob!!!

  3. jen

    Well said, Cohen.

    Also, out of 22 congressional races of anti-immigrantion reps, 21 lost their seats in November… Get the message, GOP?

    America is a country of immigrants, don’t forget that neverybody but Native Americans are immigrants here!

    The immigration reform is long-overdue but it’s coming. Join America’s Voice to lobby now: http://www.americasvoiceonline.org/

  4. Beth - The Redneck Queen

    Buzz – dude. You drank the John Tanton koolaide. Fair and NumbersUSA have a hidden agenda of population control. This means you get too sick – you get too old… Dr. Tanton would euthanize your crusty butt. You’d just be utilizing our precious resources.

    And Abortion? Yeah – that’d be okay, too. Kill any baby that wasn’t planned and can’t be cared for without government assistance. That’s what Jesus would do, eh?

    The biggest hypocrisy of our Grand Ol’ Party is that so many of our esteemed conservative leaders have been led by the nose on the issue of immigration down a desolate path of inhumanity and away from the cross they vociferously defend. Tsk Tsk.

    I may be redneck, but I support immigration reform. My ancestors were immigrants – and they didn’t come here upon invitation.

  5. Melanie Smith

    People who come here illegally and break the law doing so do not deserve amnesty, they deserve tto be busted and deported to their homeland. That’s where they belong, not taking jobs from people who were born here and are americans, not illegals.

  6. Gary

    Cohen, do you really think that everyone who wants the border secured and opposes amnesty for ILLEGAL immigrants is a redneck? If that were true, Obama would have never been elected. The vast majority of Americans oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, yet Obama won. Apparently, most Americans recognize the promise and hope of the guy, yet still have the common sense to oppose a measure that failed in 1986 and will fail again.

    Let’s assume illegal immigrants get their amnesty (which I doubt will happen). Since no border and no enforcement is 100% effective, the number of illegal immigrants will again grow to 10+ million in 20 years or so. What then? Another amnesty? Or by then will we have given up and torn down the fence, disbanded the Border Patrol and ICE, and repealed all immigration laws?

  7. Megan

    Why is Maria’s English so bad if she has been in the US for TWENTY years? My Spanish is better than that, and I only started learning it passively a couple of years ago, and I live in an ENGLISH-speaking country! Want to know why pro-assimilation people are so angry? There is Exhibit #1.

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  10. KIM

    The Maech was called off. Oh well. If you have not come to this country leagally, you deserve nothing, but a one way ticket home.

  11. Patricia

    Its not just latinos. there are others here who overstayed who want to become legal, speak english fluently and paid taxes. If we all become legal, the economy will improve, there will be $$$ in the treasure department. Everyone will be happy. Most illegals have jobs, so they are not taking from American citizens who don’t want to work in the kitchen, construction, ect..

  12. Dulce Maria

    “Entre los individuos como entre las naciones, EL RESPETO AL DERECHO AJENO ES LA PAZ” –B. Juárez

    (Among individuals as among nations, the respect for the rights of others is peace.)

  13. Ivan

    No more waiting and excuses. Congress must act now and pass a comprehensive immigration reform. It is the humane thing to do, since millions of hard-working immigrants deserve a shot at the American dream!

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