Immigration Reform Week: Immigrants stand up and be noticed

This morning a bipartisan senate committee, led in part by Senators Chuck Schumer (D), John McCain (R), Dick Durbin (D), Lindsey Graham (R), Robert Menendez (D), Marco Rubio (R), Michael Bennet (D) and Jeff Flake (R) released a statement that they have preliminary support for a senate led immigration reform framework. This initiative comes one day before President Obama is expected to announce his own immigration platform initiative tomorrow in Las Vegas.

The immigration battle lines are being drawn and are being led by politicians who are looking to shape the electorate for their respective parties during the next election cycle. Absent in the framing of the immigration agenda are the silent immigrants living in fear, afraid to come out and be counted.

President Obama has declared immigration as one of his priorities but he also leads an administration who has steadily increased the number of deportations of immigrants from 392,000 in 2010 to last year’s 409,849. He is deporting more immigrants while at the same time attempting to reform the broken immigration system.

For their part, the Republicans are starting to realize that their anti-immigrant rhetoric is hurting their electoral prospects and have started to reach out to the Hispanic electorate with their own notion of immigration reform.

It is no surprise that US immigration reform has finally entered center stage in the political arena since the Latino vote accounted for 10% of the 2012 electorate; of those 71% cast their vote for Obama. Hispanics account for 16% of the US population and their political awakening is starting to have an impact on the politics of the nation.

Both, initial reforms are driven by an agenda to frame the immigrant message for the benefit of one party over the other.

If effective immigration reform is to happen, we, both documented and undocumented immigrants need to shape the message for the masses. We cannot and should not let others create, curate and manage the immigrant message for the nation.

As documented immigrants we have a duty to engage ourselves in the discussion and help explain the immigrant experience in this nation of immigrants. We owe it to those before us, who blazed the trail and those still living in the darkness. We all know the stories, the sorrows, the fears and the obstacles. We need to share them and take control of our own destinies.

I have launched a US Immigration Reform online rallying point, a place to share our stories, a place to stay abreast of the immigration debate and a place to be part of framing the national message.

Please visit, sign up and tell your friends about: http://www.usimmigrationreform.org

I realize how hard it is to sign up and engage in yet another social media project but as paisanos we need to give a little of ourselves to our brethren still living in the shadows. Please take a moment to tell your friends and add yourself to the silent voices.

This is a call to action for immigration reform. Do you want the others to frame the message, or do you want to be the one to do it? The choice is ours. It is our time.

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