Sunday, November 12, 2006

Illegal alien supporters buoyed by new Congress.

Immigration: There is going to be a fight between the people who do not want to give amnesty vs the White House/Dem Congress who want to pass this sham.

But the activists said they are taking nothing for granted. Chacon was among more than 50 group leaders from cities such as Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and even Kingston, N.C., who met in South Florida for the three-day annual conference of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities. The alliance formed in 2004 following Bush's call for immigration overhaul. Angela Sambrano, president of the alliance and head of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles, said the election signaled that Americans are open to immigration changes that go beyond erecting a wall along the Mexican border. "But we know comprehensive immigration reform is not going to happen on it's own," she said. The alliance is calling for expedited residency for legal immigrants, a path to residency for those in the U.S. illegally and more civic programs to help new immigrants integrate into American society. The coalition also seeks a plan to handle future immigrant flows, including temporary worker visas and increased dialogue with Latin American leaders. Sambrano said she feared power struggles within the Democratic party could overshadow any immigration debate, especially as members of Congress gear up for the 2008 election. And she worried Democrats might oppose reform to avoid allowing President Bush to claim credit for it. Massive demonstrations against proposed legislation that would criminalize illegal immigrants brought the issue to the forefront earlier this year, but it has since faded somewhat. Some of the most ardent proponents of restrictive border policies lost in Tuesday's election, including Republicans U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona and Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, but at the same time, voters in Arizona approved ballot measures that expanded the list of government benefits denied to illegal immigrants and made English the state's official language. Maria Rodriguez, of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said getting more new citizens to register and vote in the 2008 election is also a priority. Activists had promised to register 1 million foreign-born voters this year but fell far short. "For 10 years it was always 'we don't have a Democratic Congress.' Now we don't have that excuse," said Gloria Saucedo, of the Los Angeles-based Hermandad Mexicana. "It's up to us."

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