Activists, Congress Tackle Next Steps on Immigration Reform

By Jamilah King Apr 23, 2010

On the same day that Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law, some members are getting ready to act. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), whose blistering criticism of the Obama administration’s failure to tackle immigration reform pushed Democratic party leaders to prioritize the issue this year, will travel to Phoenix to attend a massive rally on Sunday. In a press release issued earlier today, Gutierrez urged supporters to intensify their pressure on Congress and Obama:

"If there is any silver lining to all this, the legislative overreach by Arizona Republicans to inject harsh anti-immigrant politics into the brewing Election Year stew is focusing the President’s attention on the need for the federal government to take charge and the urgent need for him to use his office to make something happen on immigration reform in Congress this year."

Until this week immigration reform had mostly been left on the Congressional back burner. Now national immigrants rights advocates are working with Arizona activists to stage a massive rally at the state capitol building in Phoenix on Sunday. It’s anticipated that Gutierrez will use the rally as an opportunity to publicly challenge fellow members of Congress to tackle immigration reform before May 1 — when thousands are expected to rally on the nation’s capitol. Even though supporters in the House claim to already have over 200 votes in the Democratic Caucus for comprehensive immigration reform, they would still need at least 20 Republican votes to pass the measure. President Obama has already begun making his bipartisan rounds. Some advocates still question whether the language of comprehensive imimgration reform is too heavy on enforcement. In today’s statement, Guiterrez made a plea to Obama to make the case to address "cut off illegal immigration and promote border security." "For us, [SB 1070] is the proof that the outsourcing of federal immigration laws to state and local governments have proven to be disastrous, " said Sarahi Uribe, an organizer with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "This didn’t happen in a vacuum."