The positive impact of Sunday’s rally on the mall for immigration reform is already in evidence. Yesterday, after months of pressure, Senators Schumer and Graham finally released their blueprint for immigration reform and President Obama immediately pledged to help push bipartisan legislation forward. Next was Senator Reid who promised to make time for legislation on the floor this year and Senator Leahy also pledging his support.
It’s hardly a coincidence that these statements all came days before the rally, which organizers predict will bring tens of thousands of people to Washington for an interfaith prayer service, three hours of speeches, and a peaceful march for change. Cynics may ponder whether these are simply more empty promises, but that would ignore just how hard it is to get commitments from politicians on anything relating to immigration. The prospect of thousands of people calling you out on national TV has a way of focusing the political mind.
There’s no doubt, however, that yesterday’s statements are still a far cry from putting a bill on the president’s desk. The Schumer/Graham editorial laying out their plan isn’t very detailed and a few of its provisions—biometric Social Security cards; “zero tolerance” for those who enter illegally are going to be hotly contested. Other aspects, like missing plans for reducing backlogs and helping keep families together, has advocates on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what actual legislation will look like.
But there is a strong commitment to legalization. The Senators acknowledge that we must create a system for regulating future legal immigration that is responsive to the economy, ensuring that the flow of workers matches more closely the demand. And they unequivocally recognize that the immigration system itself is broken and that Americans want it changed.
That’s surely the message we will hear over and over again from the speakers lined up to address the crowd on Sunday. From union presidents to bishops to Los Lonely Boys, people of every color and from all walks of life will do what Americans have always done to influence change—rally, march, and when the time comes, vote.
Photo by lrargerich.