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Report from 1/29 Meeting with Pelosi's Staff about Immigrant Rights Issues

by ISN
Report Back from Jan 29 Meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Staff about Our
Open Letter and the Immigrant Rights Issues
Lee Siu Hin
National Coordinator
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
On Monday, January 29, a group of us, representatives from San Francisco La
Raza Legal Centro, National Organization of Women, veterans and I met with
Speaker Nancy Pelosi's staff on immigration and present our open letter and
exchanges ideas on the immigration issues.
We met for one hour and had a frank and open discussion about the
immigration legislation issues. We have some agreements and difference at our points of
- While Rep. Pelosi supports the DREAM Acts and the immigrant labor rights,
we disagree on the guest workers program, she supports the program and we’re
against it. The staffer of the Pelosi office told us we’re the ONLY(?)
national organizations had lobby her against the program—while almost all other
national organizations had told Pelosi that they’ll support the guest worker
- We disagrees on the border fence program, and the anti-immigrant bill,
they told me we cannot get the perfect pro-immigrant bill to pass in the
Congress, and we need to make “compromise” on supporting certain enforcement part
of the immigrant bill in order we can pass something this year.
- They told us 2007 is the best possible year to push for comprehensive
immigration reform legislation, and we only have until August, 2007 to do this, “
if we missed this year (2007), we’ll need to wait 10, even 20 years before
next chance to push for the comprehensive immigration reform legislation at the
Congress.” They told us.
- Basically, they told us immigrant organizations from across the country
need to work together and “compromise” what kinds of comprehensive immigration
reform legislation they want to push, they said we need collectively agrees
on what to push and what to give up (or put on hold) in order we can have
realistic a chance to pass this year.
- They suggest we need to focus on local level lobbying to gain supports
from Congressional members at the anti-immigrant district for passing the
comprehensive immigration reform legislation, because they are the “wild card” on
the vote on the Congress, if anti-immigrant groups mobilize their base to
demand their elected officials to against the pro-immigrant bill, they will do
so, however, if we can mobilize their local communities and interfaith leaders
to talk with them, we’ll have chance to gain their supports to pass the
In addition, we also raised our concern to them about the war in Iraq, the
war funding and the link with the immigrant rights movements.
In conclusion, we aggress to maintain our communication for the coming
future on drafting the comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Reports from Other Congressional Visit and Across the Country
In addition, thank you for everyone who had visited and call your
representatives at the Call-In day, at dozen states.
Here’re some reports from the call with their representatives:
New York
By: Diana

I visited the offices of 6 New York congresspeople [at the Washington D.C.]:
Charles Rangel, Nita Lowey, Jose Serrano, Jerrold Nalder, Maurice Hinchey
and Yvette Clarke to begin a dialogue on how to: obtain progressive immigration
legislation, defeat any reactionary legislation that is proposed, and impose
a moratorium on arrests and deportations until congress passes good
legislation. I selected these representatives based on their voting records on past
immigration bills and their power ranking in Congress. I added Yvette Clarke
because politically she may be better than any other NY Democrat in that she
is not entrenched, she is new and progressive and may actually want to do
something, she is the daughter of immigrants and she has a large Haitian/Jamaican
immigrant constituency.

The questions and ideas I posed to the congressional staffers included:

-will it be more productive to push for progressive legislation in the next
2 years, i.e. are there currently enough votes particularly on the Republican
side (because the Democrats will need Republican votes) to produce and pass
progressive legislation,

-or wait until after the 2008 elections when hopefully more Democrats will
be elected and concentrate on defeating or staving off any unacceptable bills
in the meantime.

-as it is unacceptable to make immigrants pay with imprisonment,
deportation, separation from their families, and destruction of their lives for the
inability of congress to pass comprehensive legislation even though it has been
on the table for 6-7 years, a moratorium should be placed on arrests and
deportations until such time as congress passes an immigration bill. How do we
make a moratorium a reality. Who will take the leadership in congress.

Rangel’s Chief of Staff was the only one forthcoming with an answer, the
others needed time to talk to their reps. He said the following:

-Its not the time to take up progressive immigration legislation because
Democrats want to win in 2008 elections (the thinking being that Democrats
supporting immigration will lose votes for Presidential and other candidates
running for election – not sure if this is true. See Rob Paral’s article on who
voted for Sensenbrenner – Reps who voted for that bill are most likely to
represent districts with relatively few undocumented immigrants.)

-Rangel would probably support a bill calling for moratorium on
arrests/deportations but would not lead it because of his work on Ways and Means Comm.

-leadership on immigration will probably come out of Black Caucus –John
Conyers and Betty Thompson.

After taking this first step the dialogue needs to continue with the
staffers in the NY District offices. We need to find Democratic leadership to
introduce a bill to place a moratorium on arrests/deportation and then to introduce
progressive immigration bill that immigrants, their families, friends and
communities and progressive people can support.

From: R. Evely Gildersleeve, Ph.D.

Representative Tom Latham, Iowa's 4th District - I called the DC office and
asked to speak to my congressman. The staffer told me he was unavailable
today but would I like to leave a message. I did. I left the script provided by

Senator Chuck Grassley - The DC office told me that Senator Grassley was in
Iowa today. So, I tried the Des Moines office. The staffer's first response
was to tell me that the Senator was in DC today. I informed her that I had
just spoken with the DC office, and they told me that the Senator was in Iowa
today. She replied, "Well, I don't have the Senator's schedule, sir." I asked
to leave the Senator a message. She asked for my address. I gave the script
provided by ISN, then gave my address.

Senator Tom Harkin - The DC office told me the Senator was traveling today.
I began to leave the script as my message, but then was put on hold. The
staffer returned and took my message. He never asked for my name or address.
From: Michelle L'Allier
I called in to Jim Ramsted's office, District 3 of Minnesota, today to
register my desire as a voter in his district for his support of comprehensive
immigration reform legislation, using your script points. I was respectfully
received and heard--thank you for the script!

National Immigrant Solidarity Network
No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!
webpage: _http://www.ImmigrantSolidarity.org_
e-mail: _info [at] ImmigrantSolidarity.org_
(mailto:infor [at]
New York: (212)330-8172
Los Angeles: (213)403-0131
Washington D.C.: (202)595-8990

Please consider making a donation to the important work of National
Immigrant Solidarity Network

Send check pay to:
National Immigrant Solidarity Network/AFGJ

Send check to:
ActionLA / The Peace Center
8124 West 3rd Street, Suite 104
Los Angeles, California 90048
(All donations are tax deductible)

*to join the immigrant Solidarity Network daily news litserv, send e-mail
to: isn-subscribe [at]
or visit: _

*a monthly ISN monthly Action Alert! listserv, go to webpage
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Related Categories: U.S. | Immigrant Rights
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Mr Blaze
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