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August 09, 2007

Panel: Immigration change will take activating mainstream Americans

By Patricia Zapor, 8/7/2007, Catholic News Service

"WASHINGTON (CNS) – Poll after poll says the American public supports a comprehensive approach to fixing immigration problems, but leaders of efforts to pass such a federal law acknowledge that an opposite message is driving the debate.

With a comprehensive immigration bill likely off the table until after next year's presidential election, advocates for immigrants said at an Aug. 3 teleconference that their strategy now has to become getting more of that majority of the public involved in fighting for what they say they believe and defusing the power that immigration "restrictionists" have gained.

One part of that is to get more religious leaders to take a stand, said Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"We need to counter the voices of talk radio," said Appleby. "Quite honestly, the churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, need to do a better job of educating people about the realities of immigration .. to put a human face on the discussion."

Cecilia Munoz, vice president of research and advocacy at the National Council of La Raza, said that, just as it took mainstream Americans speaking up to help bring about the civil rights laws of the 1960s, more of the public must become involved in supporting immigration reform.

"We have to make it more difficult for people to stand on the sidelines," she said.

Munoz referred to a speech by Janet Murguia, La Raza's president, at the council's July annual conference, in which she described what's happened to the immigration discussion as "hatred and bigotry. We thought we were having a debate on immigration policy. But it was really a debate about who decides what it means to be an American."

Murguia said in the speech that in failing to move forward with a bill that dealt with immigration in a way that had the support of most of the country Congress "voted to cave in to bigotry. When the Senate voted to reject hope, it voted to embrace fear..."".

at http://www.catholicnews.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at August 9, 2007 06:03 AM


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