News / USA

Immigration Activists Press US Lawmakers on Citizenship for the Undocumented

Immigration Activists Press US Lawmakers on Citizenship for the Undocumentedi
X
August 28, 2013 10:07 PM
The fate of U.S. immigration reform could be decided in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives after Congress returns next month from a five-week recess. In the first of a two-part report, VOA’s Michael Bowman examines efforts to pressure lawmakers in favor of a path to citizenship for the undocumented -- the most-contentious element of immigration reform.
Michael Bowman
The fate of U.S. immigration reform could be decided in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives after Congress returns next month from a five-week recess.  In the first of a two-part report, we examine efforts to pressure lawmakers in favor of a path to citizenship for the undocumented -- the most-contentious element of immigration reform.
 
While Congress was in summer recess, hundreds of activists converged on the California district of Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, hoping to change his position on immigration reform.
 
Their demand: a House vote on a comprehensive immigration reform package that would allow 11 million undocumented immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens. Organizer Dolores Huerta believes is should be everyone’s right.
 
“Every immigrant group that has come to the United States has been able to get citizenship, from the Founding Fathers, who were the first immigrants who came here, to the most recent ones who are here now,” said Huerta.
 
McCarthy was not present when demonstrators entered his district office. But a statement on the congressman’s website rules out a path to citizenship: “We should not provide any amnesty that would benefit those who defy our laws and enter the United States illegally.”
 
McCarthy’s position mirrors that of most House Republicans who have not been swayed by pro-immigration reform demonstrations in congressional districts across the country.  Activists need to re-think their tactics, according to Republican strategist John Feehery.
 
“The single most counter-productive thing that immigration activists can do is go into a Republican office and protest.  The single most effective thing they can do is register in a Republican primary [election] and promise to vote against any Republican that does not support immigration reform.
 
The Washington-based coordinator of the pro-reform lobbying effort, Frank Sharry, disagrees.
 
“Politics is about pressure. It is about organizing, it is about mobilizing. It is about getting your voice heard,” says he.
 
Sharry adds that lawmakers are feeling pressure from a broad coalition, not just street activists.
 
“They are hearing from the immigrants in their community, the business people, the tech entrepreneurs, the evangelical pastors, the Catholic bishops, and union leaders. That is a pretty unusual thing in American politics. So we are hopeful,” adds Sharry.
 
But House Speaker John Boehner has ruled out a vote on the comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate, preferring to start with law enforcement.
 
“It is clear that securing our borders and having the ability to enforce our immigration laws is the first big step in this process,” says Boehner.
 
Strategist Feehery says the Republican approach enjoys broad support.
 
“Poll after poll show the Republican [voter] base does not want a so-called 'amnesty' bill to pass. And anything of a comprehensive nature is called amnesty. So that makes it difficult for Republican leaders to get that necessary legislative fix done,” says Feehery.
 
Democrats, meanwhile, will not support any bill that excludes a path to citizenship. And so the political stand-off on immigration reform drags on despite activists' efforts.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid