Despite the U.S. government shutdown, we at L&L Immigration Law, PLLC are busy working to support our clients. Though the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of State are still processing visas, clients are having immigration court dates postponed unless they are currently in detention. The Department of Labor is not processing necessary applications for employment-based visas. Our attorneys are committed to keeping up with the news and relaying important information back to our clients.
During this time of uncertainty, immigrants’ rights supporters are not slowing down their push for comprehensive immigration reform. Last Tuesday, I attended the Camino Americano: Rally and March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect held on the National Mall. Though the Mall is generally closed to the public during the shutdown, the event was allowed to proceed on first amendment grounds.
Similar to the last rally we attended, this event included a star-studded list of immigration reform proponents. Highlights included:
· Civil rights leader and NAACP board member Julian Bond discussed how the Black and immigrant communities should come together to support each other in the fight for civil rights
· President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten stressed that America’s teachers are behind immigration reform, and that this isn’t a Democrat or Republican idea, but an American idea
· Senator Robert Menendez, one of the “Gang of 8” who introduced the immigration bill that passed in the Senate earlier this year, declared that it is in both the national security interests and the economic interests of the U.S. to pass immigration reform
· Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart noted that this wasn’t the first rally everyone had been to on the subject, but that “it’s about time we get it done this year”
· Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress, made an argument that is gaining traction in the movement – Americans who oppose “amnesty” should consider that by not passing immigration reform, our country is in effect providing amnesty to the 11 million undocumented immigrants because nothing is being done to fix the system
The rally continued with a concert by Los Tigres del Norte, a norteño band with Mexican roots and a flair for singing songs that hit home for many in the Latino immigrant community. With lyrics about having two home countries or the sacrifices parents make for their children who then forget their roots, many in the crowd nodded in agreement as they sang along to the myriad of songs.
After I left the rally an organized group of approximately 200, including 8 congressmen and several political activists, were intentionally arrested for blocking off a street near the Capitol building.
Later that week, I attended a conference hosted by the University of Virginia Miller Center. Prominent journalists from the New York Times, the New Yorker, PBS, the National Journal, and Fusion encompassed a panel discussing the impact of news media when covering immigration topics. With some panelists being specifically assigned to the immigration beat, and others covering Washington as a whole, each talked about how important it was to disseminate facts about immigration to the general public. An issue that once didn’t get much traction is now covered frequently by national media outlets.
Regardless of one’s views on the topic of comprehensive immigration reform, the takeaway is clear – passionate people exist on both sides of the debate, and immigration stories will continue to make the news until a solution is reached.