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Globe Live Media, Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Encouraged by the arrival of a Democratic administration, with control of both legislative houses, immigrant activists are preparing for new battles in which they will try to give boost to President Joe Biden’s proposal that could open the doors to naturalization for 11 million people.
National organizations such as United We Dream and the United Farm Workers Foundation launched a million-dollar campaign on Monday through the hashtag #WeAreHome that has already begun posting notices on Facebook and other social networks in order to pressure legislators to support the measure.
The chances that Biden’s proposal will succeed are remote. Immigration remains a highly divisive issue, and Republicans have said they will oppose the initiative. Democrats have 50 of the 100 seats in the Senate and the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, but they need at least 60 votes for the law to pass.
The opposition to the project also announces a campaign to stop it, with advertisements on radio and television. And they say they will write letters and hold virtual meetings with legislators.
Activists, however, relish the arrival of the new government and the growing public support for the idea of allowing people with irregular immigration status to naturalize. They also emphasize that they already have more experience in these battles.
“The movement has matured,” said Lorella Praeli, a Peruvian who is co-president of Community Change, one of the national organizations promoting the campaign. “It is more diverse and more experienced.”
Praeli, who is 28, was brought to the United States at age 10 to receive medical treatment after losing a leg in an accident. He has been active in the cause of immigrants since adolescence.
He was the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign liaison with the Hispanic community and spoke during the 2016 Democratic national convention.
He asserted that the battle is being fought at various levels, from grassroots community organizations to lobbying in Congress. Participating organizations will fund the campaign with their own funds and with the help of the New Venture Fund, a non-profit group.
“We need rapid progress on immigration,” Praeli said. “We have 100 days to set the tone.”
Patrice Lawrence, Jamaican co-executive director of UndocuBlackNetwork, said the campaign represents all immigrants, “regardless of our skin color, where we live, whether we work, how we pray or how old we are.”
Glo H. Choi of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium said it is time for a comprehensive reform of immigration laws to be passed.
“The temporary measures of the past only postponed things,” said the Chicago activist, who was brought to the country from South Korea as a child.
The campaign gives hope to immigrants like Daniela Murguía, a Mexican who graduated from the University of Washington and lives in Renton, a suburb of Seattle. Her family brought her to the country in 2008, when she was 11 years old, and she does not have a residence permit or any legal protection. He helped raise millions of dollars for undocumented immigrants amid the coronavirus pandemic and fought to include that aid in the state budget.
Under Biden’s bill, most people like Murguía will have to wait eight years to naturalize. But those who took advantage of the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), those who have a temporary protected status after escaping the violence of their countries and the farm workers would wait only three years. The initiative includes protections for other types of immigrants as well.
Opponents of the initiative say that after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty, nearly three million immigrants reached many more. Control of illegal crossings, however, has improved greatly since then and Biden’s proposal calls for more technology at land crossings, airports and ports, as well as the suspension of the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico that promoted so much by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who supported the wall and favors more restrictive immigration laws, believes the proposal would create “open borders.” It maintains that it “does not take into account the health and safety of Americans or the application of the laws” on the subject.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform, opposed to the bill, also estimates that the bill amounts to an amnesty.
“It would not only reward everyone who violated our immigration laws in the past, but it would induce millions more to come illegally,” complained RJ Hauman, head of the unit in charge of government relations. “In exchange for absolutely nothing.”
NumbersUSA Deputy Director Chris Chmielenski believes Biden may feel indebted to the activists who helped him get to the White House. Your organization promotes more restricted immigration.
“I think (the project) does not have the slightest chance of being approved,” he said.
Activists, however, have a shift in public opinion going for them.
Seven out of 10 voters say they prefer to offer undocumented immigrants the opportunity to regularize their immigration status, according to a November study by AP VoteCast. The study involved 110,000 voters and found that nine out of 10 people who voted for Biden and half of those who voted for Trump want to somehow legalize immigrants without a residence permit.
Veteran activists like Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers union who now runs her own foundation, said the campaign for reform will benefit from the dramatic stories of children separated from their parents during Trump’s tenure.
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