Strategy & Tactics for Immigrant Rights in 2007

Against the Current, No. 127, March/April 2007

Nativo V. Lopez

FOR THOSE OF us who have participated in various capacities in the immigrants rights movement, we are called upon to help define the strategy and tactics to pursue in the continued fight to fashion new, fair, and humane immigration policy and law for the United States. This would not be possible without a brief objective assessment of the actual state of affairs between our adversaries — the anti-immigrant xenophobes and their allies — and us.

This year (2006) the United States witnessed the largest and repeated mass mobilizations of the immigrant communities, their families, friends, and allies to oppose the most extreme anti-immigrant legislation, perhaps, ever to be approved by one chamber of the U.S. Congress — H.R.4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. This legislation, authored and introduced by Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., a Republican from Wisconsin, not a state overrun by immigrants other than the old world European immigrants of yesteryear, sought to criminalize the immigrant and anyone touched by the immigration process in any manner.

Defeating this legislation became the rallying cry of broad social forces, immigrants at the forefront. Literally millions marched and protested on at least three occasions, workers with their families and even many employers, persons of all political parties, less so from the Republican Party. It featured a diversity of faiths, nationalities, languages and cultural expressions, but the majority reflected the current composition of the immigrant population in the United States — Mexican and Latino, and to a lesser degree, Asian Pacific.

The Sensenbrenner Bill pieced together various enforcement provisions, the most onerous of which was the felony charge for mere physical presence without legal status, and a felony charge for “aiding and abetting” an undocumented individual. This meant that a doctor, teacher, pastor, priest, social worker or charitable organization could be charged with a felony count for providing assistance to its constituents. The 1852 Fugitive Slave Act, which made it a federal felony offense to aid and abet a fugitive slave seeking her freedom, is certainly analogous.

This is probably the best example of overreaching politically by the Republicans in this Congress. The legislation also included provisions for more onerous employer sanctions, a felony charge; the U.S.-Mexico border wall of 700 miles; elimination of due process rights to fight deportation or appeal denials for permanent residence status and U.S. citizenship; significant increase in border troop enforcement; local law enforcement cooperation with the immigration authorities, and others.

It should be understood that H.R.4437 did not surface out of a vacuum, but in fact was the culmination of aggressive organizing by extremist political forces in and out of Congress. Most of its provisions had been previously proposed in single-piece legislative proposals by one or another member of the anti-immigrant Republican caucus over the past ten years, led by the likes of Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado). It should also be considered as continuity legislation to that approved by the U.S. Congress in 1996, under President Bill Clinton’s administration, but a Republican-controlled Congress, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, a serious comprehensive restrictive measure that significantly reduced legal rights and eroded the ability to adjust legal status while remaining in the United States.

This 1996 Clinton-sponsored legislation includes provisions to curtail the right of habeas corpus, to exclude and deport “aliens” based on their association, to criminalize fundraising in the United States for designated groups, and to allow the military expanded reign domestically under certain circumstances.

Struggles in the Parties

What struggles are being waged within the Republican Party and what class interests do they represent? Most of this extremist legislation is supported by all Republican members of Congress, and even a strong minority of Democratic members. (Democrats actually split on the 1996 measure, 60% opposed and 40% in favor.)

Notwithstanding the voting record, I believe that we can observe a fissure within the Republican Party, ever so slight, in relation to extremist immigration policy and legislation. There are different political forces at play and in struggle within the party, even though the majority DOES support enforcement measures.

This is reflected in the position President George W. Bush has taken in support of “guest-worker” programs and options, and even some form of legalization for those currently in the United States. His position can be considered integral to the globalist view, the so-called free traders, and advocates of global corporate expansion, reach and control.

On the other hand, probably the most prominent ideological positions of the closed-door restrictionist view, the vociferous anti-Mexican and anti-Latino posture, are reflected in the rants of author Pat Buchanan and CNN host Lou Dobbs.

Here is what Buchanan had to say about current immigration policy, taken from his recently published work The State of Emergency — The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America:

“From the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, the West wrote the history of the world. Out of the Christian countries of Europe came the explorers, the missionaries, the conquerors, the colonizers, who, by the twentieth century, ruled virtually the entire world. But the passing of the West had begun.” (1)

“And as Rome passed away, so, the West is passing away, from the same causes and in much the same way. What the Danube and Rhine were to Rome, the Rio Grande and Mediterranean are to America and Europe, the frontiers of a civilization no longer defended.” (2)

“Against the will of a vast majority of Americans, America is being transformed. As our elites nervously avert their gaze or welcome the invasion, we are witness to one of the great tragedies in human history. From Gibbon to Spengler to Toynbee and the Durants, the symptoms of dying civilizations are well known: the death of faith, the degeneration of morals, contempt for the old values, collapse of the culture, paralysis of the will. But the two certain signs that a civilization has begun to die are a declining population and foreign invasions no longer resisted.” (5)

Lastly, says Buchanan, “We are witnessing how nations perish. We are entered upon the final act of our civilization. The last scene is the deconstruction of the nations. The penultimate scene, now well underway, is the invasion unresisted.” (6). And Mr. Dobbs does not hail far behind Buchanan in his thinking and daily tirades.

Another consideration, however, explains that split within the Republican Party in relation to immigration policy, and that has to do with the growing Latino electorate and the desire of the moderate wing of the party to attract this electorate. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Tom Tancredo is the worst/best example of the anti-immigrant caucus, comprised of 70 to 100 members of the House at any given time depending on the legislative proposal. Do these extremist forces within the Republican Party represent the majority of America? In my opinion they do not represent the majority of Americans or of the Republicans themselves; they do however represent the core extremist wing and most loyal base of the party.

It is noteworthy that before the November elections, political consultants to Republican Party candidates counseled against going over the top with the anti-immigrant message.

That politicians need to leave demagoguery and irrationality behind became crystal clear when three rabid anti-immigrant congressional candidates went down in flames in the November elections. Rep. J.D. Hayworth of suburban Phoenix; Rep. John Hostettler, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration; and self-described Minuteman candidate Randy Graf, whose campaign in southern Arizona’s 8th Congressional District was little more than immigrant bashing, were soundly defeated.

On November 21, Quinnipiac University released a national post-election poll. Nearly seven out of ten voters (69%), the Quinnipiac poll found, favored a program that would open a road for undocumented immigrants to advance toward citizenship over a period of several years — an approach close to what President Bush and the Senate have proposed, but contrary to the House Republican leadership’s position. Americans also want tighter border security and to reduce future illegal immigration, Quinnipiac found.

Movement Unified in Struggle

How was the immigrants’ rights movement successful in defeating H.R.4437? The strategy of broad unity was fundamental to bringing together all those political forces that would have been adversely affected. The felony provision, the unprecedented attempt to criminalize immigrants and their service providers or supporters, and or employers, was a central incentive to unite opposition forces, and to put the Republican Party on the defensive after the massive demonstrations of March, April and May. There actually began a debate and blame game amongst themselves (more the moderate voices of the party) on the question.

Democrats Moving Rightward

Over the last ten years the Democratic Party has moved to the political center and even to the political right on the immigration question. While many Democratic politicians and candidates may verbalize platitudes when they are before their minority Latino or Asian Pacific electoral constituents, the voting record tells another story.

Probably the most glaring example of this was the vote of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez in favor of the Real I.D. Act of 2005, the first national identification law in the United States and the measure which precludes states from issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Sanchez is the first female and Latina Democrat to win a congressional seat in Orange County — having defeated right-winger Robert Dornan in the rancorous disputed election of 1996, wherein Dornan and the Republican Party alleged voter fraud and illegal voting by immigrants.

She was carried to victory on the backs of the 100,000 new immigrant U.S. citizens (resulting from the amnesty program under the Immigration Reform Control Act of 1986 law), many of whom had the opportunity to vote for the first time in 1996. After the massive historic marches this year, she was quoted criticizing the marches, and declaring that voter registration would have been a better approach — this comes from a congresswoman who has not invested in nor committed significantly to voter registration in her own district over the past ten years (nor has the Orange County Democratic Party, for that matter, resulting in a decline in voter registration margins between the Democrats and Republicans.

Senate Bill 2611 (taken almost straight from the previously proposed Kennedy-McCain legislation, but rewrapped under the surnames of other federal legislators — Hagel and Martinez) was the Democrat’s legislative answer, or compromise to H.R.4437. But what did it contain? This is important to note because I predict that the legislative fight in 2007 will be developed along similar lines.

We must be prepared for what the Democrats have in store for us, notwithstanding the political party shift that occurred in November.

The Great American Boycott

By May of 2006, certainly after the Great American Boycott on May Day, we can safely say that H.R.4437 was definitively defeated. It could not find a corresponding home in the Senate. Just before May Day, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Party Minority leader, declared that H.R.4437 was DOA, dead on arrival.

Considering that the Republicans held all the keys to the committees of both houses, and could control the agenda on any piece of legislation, it would have been better to forgo any new legislative version and wait it out until after the November elections, wait out the lame duck session, and come back the following year under a new Congress, with a motivated and mobilized constituency.

This was the counsel of the majority of grassroots leaders throughout the country. However, shortly after Senator Reid’s comments, a number of political players went into action to work out compromise legislation, much to the dismay and opposition of the grassroots. These included the top hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the Democratic Party leadership, Senator Edward Kennedy’s office, the National Immigration Forum, the National Council of La Raza as well as other organizations and Latino elected officials.

The compromise legislation came to be known as the Hagel-Martinez Bill, named after the authors Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and Mel Martinez (R-Florida), with the number S.2611. This was the Democrats’ and moderate Republicans’ version of the “path to citizenship” for those who could meet certain demanding criteria (an estimated three million), removal and possible re-admission at some later date for millions of others (by waiving their legal rights), and the absolute deportation of millions more.

It also called for eliminating certain current legal rights, particularly the right to appeal unfavorable petition determinations and deportation orders, the construction of a border wall (only 300 miles instead of 700), more onerous sanctions against employers, a massive guest-worker program with no possibility of legalizing one’s status, indefinite detentions, cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, and many other enforcement measures.

This bipartisan legislation passed the Senate with a majority vote by the Democrats, but was rejected in conference committee by the Republican members from both houses. The compromise broke down on the watered down “path to citizenship” and guest-worker provisions. The majority of Republicans wanted enforcement-ONLY measures, even though the Democrats and the auxiliary organizations were willing to entertain enforcement-PLUS measures.

While it cannot be ascertained whether they played a central role in lobbying Senator Reid to accept the compromise approach, the union leaderships of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), UNITE-HERE, United Farm Workers (UFW), as well as the leadership of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and others, advocated strongly in favor of this approach and legislation, notwithstanding growing opposition within their membership.

Action from Below

Ultimately, this compromise divided the immigrants’ rights movement. In the runup to May Day, the religious and political elites of the country absolutely opposed any militant strike actions by the immigrant mass movement. In unison they used the corporate media, Spanish language included, to declare and counsel against any such notion of boycotts or general strikes. Even President Bush, in unprecedented fashion, made a call for the populace to ignore the call for a general boycott and strike.

The truth of the matter is that the movement did not begin with the elites and the hierarchies, and therefore was not beholden to them. It had a logic, tempo, and rhythm of its own. The demands arose from the grassroots, and while it certainly had a spontaneous character, the organized contingents of the movement had and have been involved in organized action for the past twenty-plus years.

As we all know, the May Day actions were a resounding success throughout the country. In city after city, commerce, traffic, schools and production came to a screeching halt. The immigrants demonstrated their inherent economic value to the economy and country, and their willingness to take militant but non-violent direct action to pursue their demands.

A Pew Research Center report confirmed that 63% of Latinos saw May 1st as the beginning of a mass social movement to win their rights. But by then the fix was already in.

Nevertheless, the right-wing of the Republican Party was not up for a compromise. It was enforcement-ONLY or nothing for them — and they prevailed, which was fine with us because we didn’t want S.2611 either.

But all of this helps us understand the role of the Democratic Party, its legislative leadership, the role of the auxiliary organizations, the role of some of the unions, and the timidity of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. This is important because it provides a basis for what we can expect as we enter 2007 and the new Democratic-controlled Congress.

Piecemeal Repression

After June 2006, the strategy of the Republican Party switched to a piece-meal legislative approach — death by a thousand cuts for us — and they prevailed with the support of the majority of the Democrats.

Two Republican initiatives bear out my observation: first, legislation to increase the border patrol budget and troop strength to an additional 6,000 officers, bringing the total to 18,000; and second, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which translates into the construction of the border wall, 700 miles to the tune of $10-15 billion. These are now both laws that had been included as provisions in either H.R.4437 or S.2611.

With the most massive demonstrations in the history of the United States, more massive and numerous and national in scope than the civil rights movement, the labor movement, the feminist movement and the peace movement, while we defeated H.R.4437 we were unable to prevent the compromise approach of the Democratic Party or the piecemeal enforcement strategy of the Republicans with the complicity of the Democrats.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 demonstrated an ironic perversion of affirmative action wherein the two female Senators from California, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the lone African-American Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, and the lone female Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, all four Democrats, voted in favor of this offensive and racist measure. The last two Senators are Democratic presidential aspirants in 2008. Save us from the liberals!

“Tomorrow We Vote”

One of the most chanted slogans in the marches of May was “today we march, tomorrow we vote.” It was a clear reflection of the people’s will to move the immigrant rights agenda to the electoral arena, specifically to defeat the xenophobe Republicans. No doubt the Democrats liked this slogan. The Democratic Party could absolutely not take back the Congress without an energized Latino vote in their column. Labor and Latino organizations talked about the prospect of registering one million new Latino voters.

Alas, this was unrealistic and without adequate resources it was nothing more than a pipe dream — un sueño guajiro. The Democratic Party did not make the resource commitment in this direction and the labor movement focused on labor families, not necessarily on Latino families. No new terrain was really pursued. The Latino and immigrant communities would have to pursue the electoral strategy with their own meager resources, unless these intersected with the Democratic forces in specific races.

Nevertheless, the Republicans had done enough to estrange the Latino electorate and the result in November was a significant drop of the Latino vote percentage to the GOP — between 11 and 15 percentage points. Exit polling conducted by the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project in numerous states indicated that Latinos supported Democratic candidates by 70% and Republican candidates by 26%.

The Republicans were punished and the Democrats reaped the benefits. According to the Willie C. Velasquez Institute, in 2006 Latino voters grew to 9.9 million registered voters, a record-setting off-year cycle increase of 1.7 million compared to 2002 (8.2 million). More importantly, Latino turnout increased by 1.1 million votes cast (5.8 million) compared to 2002 (4.7 million).

The main issues on the minds of Latino voters, according to the exit polls, were the economy/jobs, the war in Iraq and immigration. The conclusion that the Democratic Party can draw from this result is that a major investment was not necessary to gain the Latino vote — which had nowhere else to go, even when you consider that Democrats supported anti-immigrant Republican-sponsored legislation. Half of Tancredo’s most vociferous allies in the House were defeated in the elections, although many of their Democratic replacements are not considered much better on the issue.

After the dismal showing, House Republicans denied F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. of Wisconsin, the departing chairman of the Judiciary Committee and an architect of the House immigration approach, a senior position on any major committee in the new Congress. This is a significant rebuke to a senior member of the House and by the Republican Party. Further, Senator Mel Martinez was selected to head the Republican Party (a reflection of the Latino electorate’s opinion of Republican candidates’ immigrant bashing).

It is interesting that the issue of immigration did not make the cut in terms of soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s list of legislative priorities. Her list included an increase in the federal minimum wage, Medicare prescription price reform, war-related investigations, hearings and oversight, no extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy, and other priorities that without a doubt correspond to the material social interests of Latinos, but absolutely nothing was said about immigration reform, which is central to the integrity of our families.

This is a preview of the coming dynamic that we can expect in relation to the leadership of the Democratic Party. We are still viewed as the peons on the political plantation by these people. And we will have to fight for everything we want from this new Congress, and this even includes the issue of the war in Iraq.

The Struggle in Arizona

The state of Arizona is currently the epicenter of the anti-immigrant nativist movement, and we should recognize the same and act accordingly. We are all familiar with the scorched nastiness of the anti-immigrant forces during the 1990s in California, the rise of the border deaths phenomenon, and the rise of the hate-mongering radio shock jocks.

This resulted in spurring on increased U.S. citizenship acquisition, voter registration, the unprecedented election of Latino legislators (27%), and the minority status for the Republican Party in California. Their last big hurrah was the reelection of Governor Pete Wilson in 1994. We have defeated the worst of these measures and are slowly building on the electoral gains made over the past decade to roll back the remainder.

Entering the 21st Century, however, the epicenter moved to Arizona. This also is a border state, and Operation Gatekeeper forced the flow of undocumented migrants to the most dangerous terrain along the border — the deserts of Arizona, which are known for extreme high and low temperatures. The most current information indicates that more then 4,500 individuals have lost their lives attempting to enter the United States through this route.

The virulent measures so common in California during the 1990s have become fashion in Arizona. While the so-called racist Minutemen hail their birthplace as Orange County, their first display of vigilantism occurred in Arizona. Anti-immigrant ballot initiative after ballot initiative has been put before the Arizona electorate. Driver’s licenses are denied to immigrants. Thousands of vehicles are confiscated and towed away by local authorities.

The sheriff of Maricopa County has applied an anti-smuggling law to both the smuggler and the passenger — a felony complicity charge. Proposition 200, which denies basic services to immigrants, and imposes a universal identifier for voting purposes, was approved in the previous election. And the November election resulted in the approval of four state measures to further prohibit services to immigrants, even though two of the most xenophobic Republican candidates were defeated at the polls.

Nonetheless, each measure has been met with increased organizing by the immigrant communities and their allies of labor, church, Spanish language media, immigrant and human rights organizations and coalitions. The fightback has been fierce. Currently, new strategies are being applied for sustained organizing amongst immigrant families to resist the worst forms of repression. A defeat of the anti-immigrant movement in Arizona is a defeat for these forces everywhere.

State of the Movement

The national immigrant rights movement is characterized by various local, regional and national networks and coalitions. Some areas are more diverse than others in nationality participation. California is probably more homogenous in the predominance of its Mexican and Latino participation and leadership; nevertheless, literally all immigrant-origin groups are represented in some form. While there may not be organic unity, there certainly does exist an alignment of views on the type of immigration reform desired by most.

The Catholic Church (under the banner of its ‘Justice for Immigrants’ campaign) has generally opted for favorable measures, but has clearly indicated a willingness to accept enforcement provisions, more onerous employer sanctions, for example, in exchange for some form of legalization. It also supports guest-worker programs, preferably a form that allows ultimate legalization for the participant.

The Church is most closely identified with the legislation offered by Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain. Local parishes throughout the country that attend to the spiritual needs of their immigrant constituency have played a consistently progressive role in defending that constituency, and have repeatedly protested in favor of more far-reaching reform than the hierarchy has advocated.

On the other hand, Protestant, particularly evangelical denominations, generally more inclined politically towards the Republican Party, have begun to play a more active role in supporting genuine immigration reform. This stance is dictated by their growing church constituency — for the most part of first generation immigrant stock.

The Kennedy-McCain bill has also won adherents from the unions mentioned earlier — SEIU, UNITE-HERE, and UFW — ironically all from the new labor federation Change To Win (CTW), while the AFL-CIO has staked out a position closer to the progressive immigrants’ rights movement in opposing employer sanctions and guest-worker programs, and demanding legalization for all. Some CTW affiliates, such as the Teamsters, Laborers, and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), are more aligned with the AFL-CIO views.

Local affiliates of both federations have been actively involved in the national immigrant’s rights movement, and their leaders are generally more adamant and perceptive in articulating the demands of the local immigrant constituencies. A growing rank-and-file movement within the first three unions mentioned opposes the compromise approach or bracero-type programs.

The auxiliary organizations mentioned earlier, National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the National Immigration Forum among others, are closest to the Democratic Party, corporate donors and government contracts, and have historically been considered more inclined to accept tradeoffs — enforcement in exchange for visas, under the argument that “this is the best we can get under the circumstances.”

To them the circumstances and political climate always look ominous, and therefore they have a greater propensity to compromise before they wage a fight. The local affiliates within these organizations, which are closest to the grassroots and depend on the local communities to sustain themselves financially and politically, are inclined to be more independent and take positions corresponding more to the interest of the local constituents. In the case of LULAC, which is membership and chapter-based, recent changes in the national leadership appear to move it in closer sync with local mandates.
In the largest metropolitan areas there are Mexican Federations, the home-town associations, which are active civically but look more towards their towns of origin than the local political scene. However, that is rapidly changing, and some of the most prominent leaders of the immigrant rights movement nationally have surfaced from these associations.

The U.S. business community has also weighed in on the immigration issue in a big way. For several years now it has melded together its Essential Worker Coalition comprised of corporations, agribusiness, and the collaboration of some unions: SEIU, UNITE-HERE, and UFW. It has actively advocated for immigration reform, especially in favor of a massive guest-worker program. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (its national office and state affiliates) has been active in advocating for favorable immigration reform.

Local Coalitions and National Networks

Local immigrant rights and civic organizations and coalitions, with both immigrant member composition and political activists, have labored tirelessly over the years on behalf of immigrants, opposed local, state, and federal anti-immigrant measures, policies and legislation, and have sought to build base constituencies within the immigrant communities.

Nationally, coalitions with calendarized names (March 10th, May 1st, March 25th, April 9th, etc.) brought together local groups to launch the fight against H.R.4437. This truly is the well from which the mass mobilizations sprung forth during 2006. Probably the greatest weakness of these coalitions, and the movement for that matter, is their lack of resources, which makes the prospect of political independence ever more difficult. What they lack in resources, though, they make up in ingenuity, steadfastness and audacity.

Most of the local and regional coalitions have come together under the umbrella of two national networks — WE ARE AMERICA and the National Alliance for Immigrants’ Rights (NAIR). The former is influenced principally by SEIU, UNITE-HERE, the National Immigration Forum, the Center for Community Change (a liberal Washington, D.C.-based private foundation), and the NCLR, however, composed of local coalitions, advocacy organizations, churches and local unions.

NAIR is comprised truly of the grassroots organizations and coalitions composed of the immigrants themselves. We belong to the latter forces, but we continue to seek areas of collaboration with the former. The WE ARE AMERICA coalition brings together other local and regional immigration coalitions, which were also actively involved in the mass mobilizations locally. The April 9th mobilizations were a good example of their national scope and strength.

NAIR continues to formalize its network of coalitions (in many cases named by the first calendar date of their major actions) and organizations, and develop its strategy and the corresponding tactics. What most characterizes NAIR is its voluntary participation, its tireless commitment to its base immigrant community, and its political independence.

NAIR convened a national conference in August 2006 (Chicago, Illinois) where it formalized its existence before 800 delegates representing 400 organizations from 27 states, this on the heels of two other successful regional conferences. The basic ten points of unity of NAIR include:

1. immediate unconditional legalization for all undocumented currently in the United States;

2. no mass deportations;

3. no arbitrary, mass or indefinite detentions;

4. no employer sanctions;

5. no guest-worker programs;

6. full labor rights, civil rights, and civil liberties;

7. no militarization of the border;

8. no border wall;

9. no criminalization of workers; and

10. increase of family reunification visas.

These are the makings of alternative immigration legislation that NAIR seeks to pursue in 2007 in collaboration with other coalitions and networks, particularly the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), which is probably one of the oldest immigrants’ rights networks, and which has advanced many very progressive pro-worker and pro-immigrant policy positions with broad national support.

However, we recognize that there are diverse opinions within the immigrant rights movement, and we seek to forge unity with all political currents, organizations, unions and churches that support the immediate legalization of all undocumented persons in the United States. This should be our common goal, our minimum basis of unity and collaboration.

We can certainly reaffirm what unites us as a national alliance while we forge unity with all others who minimally agree that immigrants represent inherent value for America, and that the fair return for all that they contribute to the greatness of this country is a legal recognition of permanent status, and eventually U.S. citizenship. This is the least that this country can offer and bestow.

We will continue to disagree on enforcement issues, guest-worker programs, the efficacy of employer sanctions, and other provisions. And we should continue to debate these issues. However, this should not be an impediment to unite around the legalization of the estimated 12 million hardworking immigrants within our midst. This is our imperative.

ATC 127, March-April 2007