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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora