Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Future of the Immigrant Rights Movement

Today is the day for scheduled immigration rallies in Washington and other locations in the U.S. Although the nascent movement appeared to have significant momentum in the spring, the turnouts have been low in the Phoenix and Chicago rallies this week.

Making this formerly invisible population visible is an important goal, and in that regard the spring rallies were an amazing spectacle and success. At the same time, for the movement to have teeth, organizers need to focus their efforts on voter registration. The challenge with voter registration is not convincing people that they need to register and vote, but that they need to become citizens in order to gain the right to vote.

I have worked with immigrants for over a decade, and I've found that many documented immigrants are reluctant to go through the naturalization process. This is not a reflection of their commitment to the U.S., but that the process is time consuming and complicated, and more resources need to be dedicated to assisting immigrants through the naturalization process.

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