A group of immigration reform advocates from around the country announced Thursday they are planning a national mobilization for early October to make a major push for immigration legislation. The National Day for Dignity and Respect is scheduled for Saturday, October 5th, and marches and rallies are already being planned in over 60 cities. Organizers said the events will culminate in a rally on October 8th in Washington D.C. In a teleconference today, Latino leaders active in immigration reform said they refuse to accept that events in Washington like the debate over Syria or the fiscal cliff should divert lawmakers from coming up with immigration legislation.
“What we witnessed in August was the maturation of a movement for change – diverse, strong and broad – demanding an immigration system with a pathway to citizenship,” said Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), referring to the broad coalition which was vocal during the August congressional recess about prodding House members on the need to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill like the Senate did. When asked about the fact that Syria and fiscal issues could divert House attention from immigration legislation, Medina said lawmakers should be able to “chew gum and walk at the same time. ”
“This is the moment for immigration reform to be approved – public opinion is in favor of reform,” Medina said.
Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, part of the bipartisan “Group of 7” working on immigration reform legislation in the House, said he has signed onto proposed legislation, “now it’s my Republican colleagues’ turn to sign it and make it public.” Gutierrez said the votes in favor of reform legislation are there, adding that unlike other issues such as health care or the ‘fiscal cliff,’ there is a bipartisan consensus on reform.
“We have over 218 votes in favor of reform,” said Gutierrez. “But what’s important is that we continue demanding from the outside; nothing occurs inside Washington DC without demands from outside Washington DC.”
The announcement of a mass October mobilization comes as pro-reform legislators are trying to keep the momentum going on legislation. Democratic California Congressman Xavier Becerra said in an interview to Roll Call that he plans to make the argument in the House that immigration reform could help bring down the national deficit, according to findings from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
But there is a real worry about whether the House will be able to debate immigration reform in the next few weeks. “Time is the enemy,” said Florida Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart in a recent interview with NBC Latino. “If we don’t get it done this year, it gets more difficult,” stated Diaz-Balart.
In the meantime, the organizers have a website, octoberimmigration.org where they are announcing the events for October. Today LULAC, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization said they were joining the October 5th event. “As members of our communities across every region in this country, we have to be diligent about passing immigration reform and raising public awareness about its importance,” said LULAC National President Margaret Moran.
“There will be no rest,” said Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director at the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. , saying more than 100 organizations are holding pro-immigration reform events and actions and more will be added during the next month.