Last week I came to Washington and met with House leaders about immigration reform. I heard a lot of pessimism and I certainly understand where it’s coming from. After the high of the Senate bill passage, during AILA’s Annual Conference of course, we’ve descended into the lows of inaction.
There was a glimmer when the House Republican leadership released their standards for immigration reform but then the appearance of backtracking immediately thereafter resulted in a fizzle, rather than an explosion of forward momentum.
But let’s be honest, it was never going to be easy. But we’ve kept up the fight.
And what’s impressive to me, and keeps me optimistic about our chances, is the fact that immigration reform is turning into an issue that is uniting more and more Americans rather than pulling them apart.
What do I mean? Well, we’ve got poll after poll that points to an acceptance of the need for reform that helps the undocumented get on the road to citizenship. We’ve got poll after poll that emphasizes the acceptance of DREAMers as the incredibly deserving group of kids that they are. We’ve seen a shift in public perception from an emphasis on security and enforcement at all costs towards welcoming and understanding and wanting to DO something about our broken immigration system.
So while Washington, DC may be at a standstill, while Capitol Hill may not be moving, the rest of the country is.
And what that means is that we need to keep up the advocacy, keep up the push, and keep up the hard work in our communities, in our states, and in DC.
Which is why I’m asking you for your time. Make a visit in February or March to your senator or representative. Talk to them or their staff about why immigration reform is important. Offer yourself as a resource, a person they can turn to for solid information about what bills have been brought up in committee, what they would mean for your community, and why this issue is so important.
Tell them about what you’ve witnessed. Bring along a client and their family if they’re willing. Share the impact that reform would have on a family facing deportation, local businesses, agriculture, high-tech, what have you.
And then commit to doing the visits again, in DC, as part of AILA’s National Day of Action on April 10.
I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep meeting, educating, and sharing. I’m going to keep my voice loud but respectful. I’m going to make sure that both sides of the aisle know where I stand, and I encourage all of you to do the same.
You can sign up for the National Day of Action online. It’s free, it’s important, and I hope to see you there.
Written by Doug Stump, AILA President