PI Original Angela Caputo Tuesday August 18th, 2009, 4:31pm

Activists Blazing The Trail To Immigration Reform

Amid a growing restlessness that immigration reform has been put on the back burner in Washington, local activists are beginning to ratchet up the pressure on their elected officials. Yesterday, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) kicked ...

Amid a growing restlessness that immigration reform has been put on the back burner in Washington, local activists are beginning to ratchet up the pressure on their elected officials. Yesterday, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) kicked off its own leg of the nationwide Reform Immigration FOR America campaign. As the Tribune reports, their latest strategy for pushing the reform agenda comes from an unlikely source:

[I]mmigration activists are borrowing from the playbook of conservative groups who helped defeat immigration reforms two years ago by bombarding legislative offices with e-mails and faxes.

"Now is the time, this is the year, we need our leaders to lead," reads part of a stock message to be sent to congressional offices.

One Illinois official who ICIRR's plan turns the tables on is Rep. Mark Kirk. The GOP senate hopeful has been particularly helpful to conservatives as they've attempted to slow reforms that would put the nation's 11 million undocumented on a path to citizenship. As a result, the organization's two-week organizing blitz -- which targets political offices, prayer vigils, and town halls -- will culminate on August 31 with the release of a Spanish-language political ad aimed at illuminating Latino voters about his anti-immigration record.

A recent analysis (PDF) of the latest census data by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) suggests that neither Kirk nor any other political candidates still on the fence immigration reform will have the luxury of ignoring immigrant voters in 2010. Over the past four years, there's been a 28 percent increase in the number of Latino voters and a 21 percent increase among Asians, IPC found. Compare that will virtually no growth -- less than 1 percent -- among whites and the new clout among Latino and Asian voters can't be discounted. Now we'll see which candidates can do the math.

Image used under a Creative Commons license by Flickr user celikins.

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