A project of the Center for Community Change

Civic Participation

GOP: Can You Hear Us Yet?

On Wednesday, July 10, two of our teammates participated in a rally as the GOP caucused on immigration.  We are calling on Speaker Boehner and the House GOP to stand up and support immigration reform by advancing the bipartisan Senate bill.  Here are their reflections from the rally.


We gathered on the lawn between the Capitol and the House Office Buildings – House Republicans were meeting a short distance away, at the same time, to determine a course of action on the immigration reform bill under debate.

1Through bouts of rain and sweltering heat, hundreds of demonstrators and organizers marched, chanted, and held signs urging lawmakers in the House to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. There was a palpable energy on the lawn, sustained for a long time so that our voices would be heard within the GOP’s secret conclave.

Although developments in the House may seem dispiriting, I am encouraged by the vibrancy and diversity of Wednesday’s rally. I was delighted to wake up the next day to a report on NPR about the demonstration. Pundits may speculate and sound bites may circulate, but evidence is growing that voters of all stripes wish to see an overhaul of the immigration system.

It’s time that leadership in the House acknowledges, embraces, and acts on public opinion. How many new polls do we need to read to understand that immigration reform has the support of Republicans – even those who self-identify as Tea Partiers?  How long must we wait before lawmakers like Speaker Boehner realize the demands of their constituents? I want to see them be responsive to the people.

It’s time that Representatives, well, represent. Click here if you want to join me in telling them the time is NOW for action!


We gave the House Republicans a “welcome” to the caucus meeting that we know they heard and hope they won’t forget. Hundreds of immigrant families, DREAMers, supporters, and faith leaders rallied in front of the Capitol under 90°F heat.

House Republicans might not be happy about the Senate immigration bill, but it’s time they listened to the people instead of insisting that they are not going to pass the bill. Their own proposed legislation – which has not been released but will likely not include a pathway to citizenship – will not reflect the desires of the majority of Americans.  We want reform, and we want a path to citizenship – and we want it NOW!

Republican and Independent voters may just stop voting for Republicans altogether if the immigration reform bill cannot be passed. Americans don’t want to see families hurt, and the House GOP seems hell-bent on destroying as many immigrant lives as possible.

Congress, remember, we vote in November, and we will vote again in 2014. It’s not the first time heard from us, and we won’t wait forever. Time is ticking.

The Day the Invisible Become Visible

The best description I’ve heard of why May 1st plays such a significant role in the immigrant rights movement comes from Angelica Salas, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

Salas said May 1st is “the day the invisible become visible.” The invisible being the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country.

From Birmingham to Los Angeles, Milwaukee to Las Vegas, Chicago to New York, these large-scale events in every corner of the country will create a splash of media attention, raising the voices of the people and bringing these important issues to the forefront of national discourse.

Likewise, earlier this month when an estimated 100,000 people showed up at the Capitol to rally for immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, we were reminded of the power of the people and the palpable public support for immigration reform, amplified by widespread coverage from major news outlets.

Less noticeable, however, are many of the events that take place each day on a local level to effect change.  Though they may not get national media attention, organizations around the country coordinate actions at the offices of their local and state representatives, phone calls and letters to Congressmen, vigils, sit-ins, petitions and more.  Every smaller effort is a part of the larger movement, and it is by building upon the momentum of these local actions that make nationwide events like today’s rallies and marches possible.

For a list of today’s May Day events happening around the country, click here.


Congress must move quickly on immigration

By Kica Matos, Center for Community Change

What does it take to get Congress to listen?

On April 10, more than 100,000 people from 31 states descended on the nation’s Capitol to send a strong message that now is the time for immigration reform.

Thousands of immigrant families knocked on Congress’ door and met with policymakers while in Washington, telling their stories about the urgent need for compassionate, comprehensive legislation.

500,000 people have contacted their Senators over the past few months, urging them to act on a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented men, women and children living in our country.
Labor, civil rights, environmental, LGBT and other progressive leaders and activists joined immigrant rights organizations to demonstrate their solidarity and a commitment to reform.

Public opinion clearly shows that voters want to change our inhumane and broken immigration policies that tear families apart. A recent poll by The Washington Post showed that 70 percent of all voters support creating a path to citizenship.

Families across the country resoundingly support immigration reform, so why is Congress stalling?

Several months ago, the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” held a press conference to announce their immigration principles. They said to expect a bill in early March. No bill was introduced.

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement – a coalition of the largest immigrant rights organizations – set a deadline of March 21 for a bill to be introduced. They missed that deadline too.

Last week, we heard it would be this week. Today, we heard it would be tomorrow.

We do not take seriously promises in the press that a bill is just around the corner.  Promises to our families have been made year after year, election after election, news cycle after news cycle.  All of those promises lie as shattered as every family who is missing a mother, a father, a sister or a brother.

No promises, excuses or spin can counter these two facts:

1. There is no bill.

2. Our families remain under the siege of a broken system and our communities continue to be devastated by overzealous enforcement by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Every day that Congress fails to address our broken immigration system, 1,100 families are torn apart, workers continue to suffer abuse and children are traumatized by the loss of a parent.

As our families continue to suffer, our communities are getting more frustrated and angry at the politicians delaying progress. Politicians must choose people over politics.

At the April 10 rally, we heard from a mother, Elia, who has fought for six years to be reunited with her three children. We heard from a 17-year-old immigrant from Colombia, Kathe, whose mom is working two jobs so that she can go to college. She inspired the crowd to action when she said, “It is unacceptable that the system does not recognize my mom for who she is because we don’t have legal status. I am tired; tired of seeing my mother being oppressed and denied of work opportunities, not because of her skills but because of a nine digit number that apparently defines a person in this country.”

For Elia, for Kathe, for the 11 million families living in this country without legal status,  we cannot wait any longer.

We expect our leaders to lead. The Gang of Eight and the entire Congress must realize that we will not be silent while lives hang in the balance.
The rally on April 10 delivered a resounding message: Now is the time to pass immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.

Granting the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country anything less than full citizenship undermines the foundations of American democracy, which are built on the idea that all people – regardless of skin color or country of origin – are created equal.

Americans are ready for a solution to this problem and the policymakers who stand in the way of reform do so at their own peril. Voters want immigration reform, families need immigration reform and we won’t stop fighting until we get immigration reform – done right and done now.

Matos is director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice, Center for Community Change.

Originally posted on The Hill

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