Friday, April 07, 2006

On the immigration debate

From the National council de la Raza. April 7,2006.

• It is important progress that a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement on a comprehensive solution to immigration reform. It is clear that, if the agreement can get to the Senate floor, it would pass with a strong majority of the Senate. That agreement would put millions of undocumented workers who are contributing every day to this country’s economic strength and vitality on a path to permanent status.

• But the Senate failed to reach an agreement to allow this compromise to come to the floor. At the end of the day, the leadership on both sides of the aisle could not agree to a process which would protect the compromise from being undone by negative amendments, or would protect the compromise all the way through the process of negotiating with the House.

• It is also important that the Senate resoundingly rejected the enforcement-only approach reflected in Senator Frist’s bill. The Senate is squarely on the side of comprehensive reform, rather than the harsh House approach.

• This process is far from over. Our community continues to be concerned about the Sensenbrenner bill. We will continue to insist on a resolution to the immigration reform debate which will bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and treat immigrants with fairness and justice.

• Latinos are interested in seeing leadership exercised by both parties, because real solutions will require bipartisan collaboration. Similarly, we will be watching members of either party who decide to sacrifice public policy solutions, so urgently needed by our country on this issue, for political calculation. We need leadership and action.

• The key message for the community is that it is important keep informed and stay in contact with trusted community organizations. Above all, the Latino community should continue its extraordinary activism on this issue. Every time we rally peacefully, carrying American flags and demonstrating the intensity of the desire for comprehensive immigration reform, we make progress in the legislative debate. We need to keep marching, keep contacting our legislators, and keep making progress. The April 10 events are a wonderful opportunity to ensure that our voices are heard in opposition to punitive measures and in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

• We ask students to exercise leadership in their schools in a way that builds support for this issue and long-term empowerment of the community. We do not encourage continued walkouts. Instead, organize speak-outs and voter registration drives at your schools, join after-school vigils and organized activities, and link hands with trusted community-based organizations. For more information, go to

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