A project of the Center for Community Change

The grassroots asks Sec. Napolitano the tough questions

In an effort to truly represent the country’s concerns at today’s meeting with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Reform Immigratin FOR America Campaign asked YOU to submit questions you wanted Napolitano to address. The response: you sent in more than 4,000 questions in less than 24 hours.

Marissa Graciosa, immigration coordinate with FIRM said:

“Most of the questions and concerns centered around timing, on wanting immigration reform done this year, not 2010. The questions came from all over the country. This reflects the widespread effects of our enforcement-heavy approach to immigration.”

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, and a partner of the Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America, was able to ask Napolitano two representative questions selected from the 4,000-plus entries. The first was submitted by a person in Pickerington, Ohio who wanted to know why Napolitano has focused too intently on border security and stopped advocating for comprehensive reform. Napolitano said she has been working on immigration reform, and would do more to communicate with people on her efforts on both fronts.

Noorani’s other question concerned the 287g program, which gives local law enforcement the authority to enforce immigration law. Noorani asked Napolitano to revoke the authority of agencies who have clearly violated the spirit of the agreement, and that the immigration reform community looked forward to seeing that happen. Napolitano responded, “Me, too.”

It’s amazing to see the voices of the grassroots communities speaking directly to lawmakers and the White House. FIRM has always tried to amplify the voices of communities who don’t always have a space at the table.  In 2006 and 2007, millions marched in the streets for immigrants’ rights and reform. Now, those millions are moving beyond the streets to swamp switchboards, email accounts, fax machines and the halls of Congress.

FIRM and RI4A was there to tell Secretary Napolitano that she must to take a leadership role in building support for comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill and with the American public.  She told said that she understands that she has do a better job communicating and a more consistent job of leading, but we need to see action to be sure she got the message.

The President is clear that he wants immigration reform to move forward this year so that we can pass a bill early next year.  To do that, we need to see more motion from Congress and more push from Secretary Napolitano.  We hope to see detailed congressional proposals shortly after recess.

Tomorrow, the FOR America campaign will deliver the more than 4,000 questions that you asked to the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Janet Napolitano. The administration is hearing your voices and they know they must respond. We continue to build momentum and we will work with you to keep pressure on the administration.

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