Immigration Advocates to Take to the Streets in Series of Oct. 5 Events

IMG_0977Immigrant groups along with faith, labor, and civil rights organizations are planning hundreds of rallies, vigils, pilgrimages, and actions this weekend to call on Congress to pass immigration reform. For the National Day of Action for Dignity and Respect on Saturday, more than 130 major mobilization events will take place to send the message that Americans want the House of Representatives to pass immigration legislation that fixes our broken system and creates a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The events on Saturday include farmworker actions in California, statewide caravans in Arizona, rallies in Houston and Los Angeles, and crossing of the Brooklyn Bridge. In Wisconsin, for example, activists are focusing their efforts at Rep. Paul Ryan (R). Local elected officials, students, and religious leaders will rally at Ryan’s office in Racine, Wisconsin, to call on him to support an immigration bill that includes a path to citizenship. “We are going to make it clear that now is the time to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said Arturo Martinez, Wisconsin director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. “A bill has passed the Senate, it is now time for the U. S. House of Representatives to show leadership and do the same.” Additionally in Wisconsin, they will hold a prayer vigil at the state’s Kenosha County Detention Center, as well as a citizenship clinic in Milwaukee to help legal permanent residents to prepare their paperwork to become U.S. citizens.

Not every immigration action is going to happen on October 5; some will continue throughout the week. On Sunday, activists in New Mexico plan to target Rep. Steve Pearce, the only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation. Many have been meeting with Pearce about the need for immigration reform and showing up to his town hall meetings, but they will also hold a march this weekend in Pearce’s hometown of Hobbs, a southeastern New Mexico city that rarely sees immigrant marches. While Pearce—who has stopped short of calling for a path to citizenship—has not signaled a change in his position, activists say they have made headway. “He’s been increasingly more cordial, increasingly more interested,” Aimee Villarreal of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a New Mexico immigrants’ rights group organizing Sunday’s event, told the Associated Press. “We believe we’ve changed the conversation.”

Along with the state actions, tens of thousands of people will gather on October 8 in Washington, D.C., to demand that House leadership bring up an immigration measure with a path to citizenship. The Camino American rally and concert, featuring popular Latino artists Los Tigres del Norte, continues the escalation that begins at the local level to push Congress to approve immigration reform. The Tuesday rally and hundreds of local events make it clear that there is wide support for immigration reform, which backs up the polls showing significant bipartisan support for improving the nation’s immigration system.

Amid the ongoing government shutdown, that has not halted the need—and demand—for comprehensive immigration reform. House Democrats introduce a comprehensive immigration bill earlier this week that takes bipartisan policies from House and Senate measures, which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described as a “suggestion” of where the House should start. Their bill is only the latest immigration measure that House leadership could take up, and this weekend’s actions show that the need and support for immigration reform continues.

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