New coalition aims to keep immigration front and center
February 19th, 2013
02:43 PM ET
10 years ago

New coalition aims to keep immigration front and center

(CNN) - As the debate over immigration reform continues to heat up, a new grassroots effort is underway in which two dozen immigration and progressive groups are working to make sure the issue stays on Washington's radar.

Their message? Pass a bill–and soon.

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The new campaign, Alliance for Citizenship, calls for a broad pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Its partner groups are doing a range of things to build pressure on Congress, including buying ad time and launching bus tours.

Service Employees International Union, for example, released a new Spanish-language radio ad Tuesday. Referring to recent bipartisan proposals in Washington to create a pathway to citizenship, the narrator in the radio spot warns listeners of "some in Congress who reject" this idea.

"They want to deny millions of hardworking Latinos a path to citizenship, keeping millions of Latino families in a state of uncertainty about whether they might still be separated," the narrator adds, according to an English-language script. "But the power to make a difference is ours."

"They heard our voice in November, they'll hear it again today," the narrator says, urging listeners to call Congress.

SEIU spent $250,000 on the ad, "The Power," which will run in media markets across the U.S. through Sunday. The ad is the start of a long-term campaign, the group says, which will likely feature futures more ads, including possible television spots.

Underscoring a sense of urgency for immigration reform, Rev. John McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, one of the partner groups, said on a conference call Tuesday that they "would like to see this process measured in years and not in decades."

"We believe the moment is right," he added.

Another group, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, is launching a 19-state, 90-city bus tour on February 25 that will profile families who could be torn apart under the current system as well as families who have had a member deported.

The tour, with multiple buses, will run through all regions of the country and will end March 12 in Washington, D.C.

The coalition forms as groups of bipartisan lawmakers on Capitol Hill draft legislation for immigration reform. On the Senate side, eight senators–four Republicans and four Democrats–announced last month a framework for their bill, which they plan to unveil in March.

President Barack Obama, however, says he's prepared to introduce his own legislation if Congress fails to act.

But tensions are high after a copy of Obama's draft leaked over the weekend, a move that got under the skin of some Republican lawmakers–many of whom thought it was done purposely to build support for his own measure. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, the party's leading figurehead on immigration, said Obama's bill would be dead on arrival if it came to Capitol Hill.

The White House flatly denied the leak was done on purpose, saying, if anything, the draft shows that the president will be prepared to propose a Plan B should Congress fail to reach an agreement.

Janet MurguĂ­a, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, said a little bit of "healthy tension" is natural and can be good for the legislation process.

"But the key is to make sure that both sides feel a sense of pressure to get a bill introduced and that we see a bill introduced as quickly as possible," she said.

Filed under: Immigration • Latinos • SEIU
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Wilson


    if giving amnesty was bad then, why in the world you are show casing rubio? isn't for the latino votes? kinda picking sarah palin for the women votes? now, how did that turn out for you?
    I never claimed to be a fan of Rubio.

    February 19, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. 2012liberal

    @sniffit the only difference between gop and obama plan is timetable. Obama would like citizenship n 8 yrs, gop just want indefinatly. They dont want any citizenship.

    February 19, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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