May Day 2007

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January 29, 2007 Congressional Lobby Day Report

On Monday, January 29, a group of us, representatives from San Francisco La Raza Legal Centro, National Organization of Women, veterans and I met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi's staff on immigration and present our open letter and exchanges ideas on the immigration issues.

We met for one hour and had a frank and open discussion about the immigration legislation issues. We have some agreements and difference at our points of unity.

- While Rep. Pelosi supports the DREAM Acts and the immigrant labor rights, we disagree on the guest workers program, she supports the program and we’re against it. The staffer of the Pelosi office told us we’re the ONLY(?) national organizations had lobby her against the program—while almost all other national organizations had told Pelosi that they’ll support the guest worker program.

- We disagrees on the border fence program, and the anti-immigrant bill, they told me we cannot get the perfect pro-immigrant bill to pass in the Congress, and we need to make “compromise” on supporting certain enforcement part of the immigrant bill in order we can pass something this year.

- They told us 2007 is the best possible year to push for comprehensive immigration reform legislation, and we only have until August, 2007 to do this, “if we missed this year (2007), we’ll need to wait 10, even 20 years before next chance to push for the comprehensive immigration reform legislation at the Congress.” They told us.

- Basically, they told us immigrant organizations from across the country need to work together and “compromise” what kinds of comprehensive immigration reform legislation they want to push, they said we need collectively agrees on what to push and what to give up (or put on hold) in order we can have realistic a chance to pass this year.

- They suggest we need to focus on local level lobbying to gain supports from Congressional members at the anti-immigrant district for passing the comprehensive immigration reform legislation, because they are the “wild card” on the vote on the Congress, if anti-immigrant groups mobilize their base to demand their elected officials to against the pro-immigrant bill, they will do so, however, if we can mobilize their local communities and interfaith leaders to talk with them, we’ll have chance to gain their supports to pass the bill.

In addition, we also raised our concern to them about the war in Iraq, the war funding and the link with the immigrant rights movements.

In conclusion, we aggress to maintain our communication for the coming future on drafting the comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Reports from Other Congressional Visit and Across the Country

In addition, thank you for everyone who had visited and call your representatives at the Call-In day, at dozen states.

Here’re some reports from the call with their representatives:


New York

By: Diana

I visited the offices of 6 New York congresspeople [at the Washington D.C.]: Charles Rangel, Nita Lowey, Jose Serrano, Jerrold Nalder, Maurice Hinchey and Yvette Clarke to begin a dialogue on how to: obtain progressive immigration legislation, defeat any reactionary legislation that is proposed, and impose a moratorium on arrests and deportations until congress passes good legislation. I selected these representatives based on their voting records on past immigration bills and their power ranking in Congress. I added Yvette Clarke because politically she may be better than any other NY Democrat in that she is not entrenched, she is new and progressive and may actually want to do something, she is the daughter of immigrants and she has a large Haitian/Jamaican immigrant constituency.

The questions and ideas I posed to the congressional staffers included:

-will it be more productive to push for progressive legislation in the next 2 years, i.e. are there currently enough votes particularly on the Republican side (because the Democrats will need Republican votes) to produce and pass progressive legislation,

-or wait until after the 2008 elections when hopefully more Democrats will be elected and concentrate on defeating or staving off any unacceptable bills in the meantime.

-as it is unacceptable to make immigrants pay with imprisonment, deportation, separation from their families, and destruction of their lives for the inability of congress to pass comprehensive legislation even though it has been on the table for 6-7 years, a moratorium should be placed on arrests and deportations until such time as congress passes an immigration bill. How do we make a moratorium a reality. Who will take the leadership in congress.

Rangel’s Chief of Staff was the only one forthcoming with an answer, the others needed time to talk to their reps. He said the following:

-Its not the time to take up progressive immigration legislation because Democrats want to win in 2008 elections (the thinking being that Democrats supporting immigration will lose votes for Presidential and other candidates running for election – not sure if this is true. See Rob Paral’s article on who voted for Sensenbrenner – Reps who voted for that bill are most likely to represent districts with relatively few undocumented immigrants.)

-Rangel would probably support a bill calling for moratorium on arrests/deportations but would not lead it because of his work on Ways and Means Comm.

-leadership on immigration will probably come out of Black Caucus –John Conyers and Betty Thompson.

After taking this first step the dialogue needs to continue with the staffers in the NY District offices. We need to find Democratic leadership to introduce a bill to place a moratorium on arrests/deportation and then to introduce progressive immigration bill that immigrants, their families, friends and communities and progressive people can support.


by: Dr. Salvador Rivera, Ph.D

I called the offices of Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer. I also rang the office of Congressman Michael McNulty.

Sen. Clinton's office had a machine on (as usual), so I left my concerns on immigration on tape. The word in the Albany-Schenectady area of New York is that she has not been helpful on this issue.

Sen Schumer's office indicated a stronger interest in my concerns and made it clear they would convey message to Schumer.

Congressman McNulty's office showed an even higher interest and much more willing to talk. I have met McNulty in person and he has been supportive.

I also asked the offices of all three to; 1) lower the immigration fees, and 2), demand that the federal government emphasize to the states and municipalities that Washington D.C is responsible for immigration matters. The states and cities are usurping power of Feds. We must insist that Feds alone retain this right.



by: R. Evely Gildersleeve, Ph.D.

Representative Tom Latham, Iowa's 4th District - I called the DC office and asked to speak to my congressman. The staffer told me he was unavailable today but would I like to leave a message. I did. I left the script provided by ISN.

Senator Chuck Grassley - The DC office told me that Senator Grassley was in Iowa today. So, I tried the Des Moines office. The staffer's first response was to tell me that the Senator was in DC today. I informed her that I had just spoken with the DC office, and they told me that the Senator was in Iowa today. She replied, "Well, I don't have the Senator's schedule, sir." I asked to leave the Senator a message. She asked for my address. I gave the script provided by ISN, then gave my address.

Senator Tom Harkin - The DC office told me the Senator was traveling today. I began to leave the script as my message, but then was put on hold. The staffer returned and took my message. He never asked for my name or address.



From: Michelle L'Allier

I called in to Jim Ramsted's office, District 3 of Minnesota, today to register my desire as a voter in his district for his support of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, using your script points. I was respectfully received and heard--thank you for the script!


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