Immigration advocates psyched for action this year

06/24/09 Mitch E. Perry
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In anticipation of a meeting on immigration between members of Congress and President Barack Obama tomorrow, advocates for getting immigration reform spoke today on a conference call.

Tamar Jacoby is president & CEO of Immigration Works, a business oriented organization.

Mark Lauritsen is vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers. He spoke angrily of some high profile immigration raids made last year by the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, based in Washington, questions the premise that the president and Congress have too many things on their plate to contemplate immigration reform in 2009.

At his briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president hopes to begin debate about immigration reform later this year but that "the math" isn’t there for any type of serious reform.

Sharry said he looks for another source when it comes to counting votes in the Senate.

In his speech on immigration today, New York Sen. Charles Schumer said it was important to refer to undocumented people who cross the border into the U.S. as being "illegal immigrants."

Janet Murguia is the president of the National Council of La Raza, a Latino rights group She said her organization looks at him as a leader in immigration reform, but says it’s only been in recent years that she such terms have been used.

The Rev. Jaime Soto, the Bishop of Sacramento and a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, said he was bothered by Schumer's emphasis on the word "illegal."

There has been a split between labor and business interests over the issue of immigrants being given temporary visas. Jacoby from the business oriented Immigration works, is in support of such a measure. While Mark Lauritsen from the Commercial and Food workers says unions have a problem with that.

The president will meet with members of Congress to discuss immigration tomorrow at the White House.

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