Latino and new American communities to Republicans: "Will you support immigration reform, or turn your backs on Latino and immigrant votes?"
Washington - Grassroots activists from the Fair Immigration Reform Movement staged a sit-in and rally at the Republican National Committee offices to demand a meeting with Chairman Michael Steele. The activists want to meet with Steele to press the Republican Party to join Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation in 2010.
Manny Rosales, deputy director of coalitions, announced Steele had agreed to meet with the activists about 20 minutes into the sit-in. The meeting is scheduled for March 31, 2010.
The action at the RNC came on the heels of Sunday's march on the National Mall, attended by more than 200,000 people, which yielded new commitments from the President and Congressional leadership to advance immigration reform legislation. With Democratic leaders on record supporting reform, and a lone Republican lawmaker working to craft a bipartisan bill, the Republican Party must reject the obstructionist tactics that are alienating mainstream Americans and killing any hopes for a larger, more diverse party in the future.
"Immigration reform has always been a bipartisan issue, and we need today's Republican Party to show the same leadership as Bush and Reagan," Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told the activists rallying outside the RNC. "If Republican politicians choose to play politics with the lives of immigrants and their families, Latino and immigrant voters will not forget who stood against reform in November."
The March on Sunday and the rally outside the RNC were a prelude to two weeks of in-district events during the spring recess.
"We are going back to our hometowns to continue organizing in all communities, to pressure both political parties to work together to create a fair and workable immigration system for America this year," said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "It may have been easy for Republicans to be against everything debated by Congress this past year, but they will have to work towards solutions on this issue."
FIRM (Fair Immigration Reform Movement) is a coalition of grassroots community organizations nationwide, working on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform and immigrant rights and is convened by Center for Community Change.
Contact: Mary Moreno, 202-306-7951, firstname.lastname@example.org