Hats off to the AILA advocacy staff for organizing a successful National Day of Action on Capitol Hill.
AILA members from all over the U.S. were in Washington, DC yesterday to lobby members of Congress on the need for a workable, user friendly, safe, and orderly immigration system.
The day started with an early morning issues briefing by our expert AILA and AILF national staff, followed by meetings with members of Congress and Congressional Staff in both the Senate and House of Representatives.Other AILA members went to liaison meetings at EOIR and USCIS on cutting edge practice issues of importance to our members and clients.
Coincidentally, just as AILA members were walking the halls of Congress, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, echoed our message on the need for immigration reform in remarks to the 13th Annual U.S.-Mexico Border Issues Conference. Pelosi spoke at a luncheon which was attended by AILA Immediate Past President Kathleen Walker. The Speaker forcefully condemned the horrific ICE raids that have broken up working families across the U.S. and emphasized the importance of both securing our borders and fixing the broken immigration system.
“Also of great importance to the border communities is of course the issue of immigration. And by that I mean we need comprehensive immigration reform. For the first time in a long time, the opportunity exists to enact comprehensive legislation. President Obama has made this a priority for his Administration. I know that yesterday he met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to reiterate his commitment to immigration reform.
“The CHC, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has long taught the House Democratic Caucus and indeed the entire Congress what comprehensive immigration reform would look like. It would of course, secure our border, it would protect our workers, it would prohibit the exploitation of workers coming into our country and it would unite our families. Family unification is an important principle of our immigration and always has been.
“About a week and a half ago, Congressman Gutierrez was inSan Franciscoon a Saturday night. We were packed and jammed in St. Anthony’s Church, hundreds and hundreds of people came. We heard from families who have had raids into their homes and into their families where families were separated. And at the time, I said it there and I’ll say it here, that raids that break up families in that way, just kick in the door in the middle of the night, taking father, a parent away, that’s just not the American way. It must stop. It’s just not the American way. So we need this comprehensive reform, and we need it soon. And we need to stop those kinds of ICE raids in the meantime.
AILA’s National Day of Action culminated in a festive reception at the new AILA national headquarters at 1331 G Street in the heart of Washington, D.C. just a few blocks from the White House. AILA members and staff celebrated the success of the day and toasted AILA’s beautiful new home.
Yesterday brought a lot of hope. Maybe this year we really will see Congress roll up its sleeves and get to work on meaningful immigration reform.