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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid