A coalition of immigrant-advocate, labor and faith-based groups announced on Thursday rallies to be held on October 5 in some 60 cities across the United States in support of comprehensive immigration reform which offers a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. On the "National Day for Dignity & Respect", as organizers are calling the day of the rallies, protesters will call for immigration reform which "ends deportations and wasteful spending on border militarization and push forward for a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring citizens that keeps families together and protects workers' rights".
Speaking from the steps of City Hall in New York, group leaders said they intended to keep pressure on House's Republican majority, which has showed itself loathe to consider legislation which would extend eventual citizenship to those in the country illegally. They added that they hoped to build on what they saw as a successful August Congressional recess, during which pro-citizenship activists appeared to outnumber those who see a path to citizenship as amnesty and seek to shift the focus of the debate to border security.
"The August recess made absolutely clear Americans want immigration reform with a path to citizenship," said Grace Shim, executive director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. "If Speaker John Boehner and the rest of Congress continue to delay a vote on citizenship when they return to work, New Yorkers are ready to take to the streets with the rest of the nation on October 5 to demand dignity and respect for our immigrant communities." House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to introduce the Senate's comprehensive immigration bill for consideration, saying it does not have the support of most members of the Republican majority.
The House has so far gone about crafting its own single-issue bills on immigration, most of which reflect conservative priorities. Before the August recess began, the House Judiciary Committee was also working on the "Kids Act", a bill which would offer legal status - but not a path to citizenship - for young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. Immigrant advocates protest that this would break apart families.
"While members of Congress got to go home to their families for the August congressional recess, eleven million undocumented immigrants were not as lucky to reunite with theirs," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "While the Senate did its job, the House is failing to make a good faith effort to negotiate on fair and comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. Now that Congress is preparing to return to business in DC, New Yorkers must send a message: We are tired of waiting. Now is the time to pass sensible comprehensive immigration reform."