The immigration movement is at the forefront of the country’s mind, and passions are high after the May 1 marches and rallies downtown and across the country. Now, organizers hope to capitalize on the momentum with a rally in Washington D.C. on Friday.
Emma Lozano, president of Pueblo Sin Fronteras in Pilsen, said the Washington rally will call for an immediate moratorium on raids and deportations and for Congressional approval of a comprehensive immigration bill.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, an organization that promotes the rights of immigrants and their families, plans to take a bus of participants from Chicago to Washington D.C. today.
The rally will be on the Ellipse, Lozano said, “which seems fitting to put it back on the president since the House and Senate cannot agree” on an immigration bill.
Lozano and organizers were still in the planning and development stage, and are unsure of specifics, such as the length of the rally, the number of buses, speakers and participant size.
Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said he was unsure if he would attend the Washington rally, but said he believed Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Mayor Daley would either attend or be represented.
Solis said this rally will not generate as many participants because of the additional travel time and missing of work for participants.
Scott Frotman, press secretary for Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago), said citizenship workshops were also an important step in the immigration movement.
Frotman said there are 8 million legal permanent residents who can apply for citizenship, but may be hesitant to apply because, “the process can be frightening and frustrating.”
“The marches showed the importance and made people more aware of being citizens,” he said.
Gutierrez held a citizenship workshop in Chicago the weekend of the May Day march, and now “1,500 people are on the path to citizenship,” Frotman said.
Lozano said people are calling for all states to follow Gutierrez and host citizenship workshops.
Chris Kennedy, press secretary for Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Morris), said immigrants’ power to vote would be felt by politicians.
Peggy Valdez, program coordinator for Mexico Solidarity Network, said the immigration movement was born at the grassroots level and that local forums will determine where the movement goes next.
Experts said becoming a citizen and possessing the power to vote is an important aspect of the immigration movement.
“Then we’re talking about power, real political power,” Lozano said.