Immigration moves higher on White House agenda

Immigrant rights activists, labor and faith-based leaders met with President Obama and White House advisers March 11 to discuss moving forward on immigration reform legislation.

The day before Chicago youth “came out” as undocumented during the Immigrant Youth Justice League “Come Out of the Shadows” march and rally in downtown Chicago. Immigrant rights groups are pushing forward and demanding Congress and the White House do something about the U.S. “broken immigration system.”

According to media reports, the president re-stated his commitment to passing comprehensive immigration reform at the March 11 meeting, but expressed exasperation that there was not enough Republican support.

He agreed to work actively to get bi-partisan support and to announce an outline for a Senate immigration bill prior to the march. He also agreed to focus deportations on criminals and to examine those deportations that are affecting people who are not criminals at a follow-up meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The president asked for grassroots help to deliver Republican support for immigration reform.

The “March for America” demonstration on March 21, which organizers expect over 150,000 participants, is helping to push forward immigration reform, activists said.

Critics say a bill Obama is likely to announce before the march will probably include unpopular measures among grassroots and labor activists, like a national biometric identification card for all workers, including American citizens and legal immigrants, plus substantial new guest worker programs.

The House reform bill, sponsored by Rep Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., also has its critics, but is seen as more favorable to immigrants and all workers than what is expected to come out of the Senate.

Photo: Pepe Lozano/PW




Pepe Lozano
Pepe Lozano

Chicagoan Pepe Lozano was a staff writer with the People's World through 2014. He comes from an activist family and has lived on the city's southwest side in a predominantly Mexican-American community his whole life. Lozano now works as a union organizer.