New Calls for Immigration Reform from Idaho

NAMPA — A broad coalition of organizations met Thursday at the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho in Nampa to show support of comprehensive immigration reform.

About 75 people attended the press conference, which was part of a week of action in all 50 states to urge immigration issues to the forefront in 2010.

The 50-state push is being organized by national campaign coalition Reform Immigration for America Now.
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We’re demanding comprehensive immigration now; it’s far past its due date and we need to get it done,” Will Rainford, the legislative advocate for the Roman Catholic Diocese and Catholic Charities of Idaho, told the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Representatives of other organizations who share the same stance, including the Center for Community and Justice, Idaho Hispanic Caucus, Idaho Peace Coalition, Interfaith Alliance of Idaho and Idaho Community Action Network, which is the lead agency in the local mobilization effort, joined Rainford.
With Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, now is the time to push comprehensive immigration reform, Rainford said.

“The pressure is on right now for comprehensive immigration reform for this Congress. We’ll be pressing in the next three to five months for reform now,” he said.

Organizers said polls show that voters in swing districts support legislation that would secure the border, crack down on employers that hire illegal immigrants, and require illegal immigrants to register for legal immigration status, learn English and pay back taxes.

“Theres a handful (of swing districts) across the nation. (Idaho) Congressional District 1 is one of them,” ICAN community organizer Leo Morales said “It’s a key target. Something surprising for Congressional District 1 is in the amount of support for immigration reform — Idahoans really wanting to support a candidate that would support (comprehensive immigration reform).”

Polling organization BSG conducted 1,000 interviews nationwide with likely voters between May 9 and 12, 2009, as well as 500 interviews each in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, and California’s 3rd District between May 27 and June 1, 2009.

The results showed that swing district voters are more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who supports comprehensive reform legislation.

Organizers said reform would keep families together, bring employers and workers out of the black market and ensure a more equitable tax system for everyone.

Also at Thursday’s event were several newly eligible voters who will register to vote for the first time. Many are recently naturalized and are eligible to vote in the 2010 elections.

“Latinos and naturalized immigrants played a significant role in the national elections in 2008, as well as in Congressional District 1’s Canyon County,” Morales said.

Naturalized U.S. citizens Sergio Castro of Fruitland and Mirella Silva of Boise signed giant voter registration cards at the press conference to demonstrate the voting power of immigrants.

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