Group to urge Congress for immigration fixes

Associated Press/Laura Wides/[[November 11, 2006]]/ link

Reports on the annual conferences of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, which was held in Florida. There were more than 50 "group leaders" attending from, among others: Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Kingston, N.C.

Oscar Chacon (longtime Chicago-based immigrant rights activist and director of the nonprofit) Enlaces America says: "The change in Congress is a positive one... But the truth is there is still a great deal of work to be done even with the Democrats in power, because many Democrats still haven't defined what they want to do about immigration."

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who is in line to become Speaker of the House, is hopeful a bipartisan agreement on comprehensive immigration overhaul will be reached by the new Democratic-controlled Congress, said her spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.

"She raised the issue with the president when she met with him as one of the issues she hopes they can work together on," Crider said.

...Angela Sambrano, president of the alliance and head of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles, said the election signaled that Americans are open to immigration changes that go beyond erecting a wall along the Mexican border.

...The alliance is calling for expedited residency for legal immigrants, a path to residency for those in the United States illegally and more civic programs to help new immigrants integrate into American society. The coalition also seeks a plan to handle future immigrant flows, including temporary worker visas and increased dialogue with Latin American leaders.

...Maria Rodriguez, of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said getting more new citizens to register and vote in the 2008 election is also a priority. Activists had promised to register 1 million foreign-born voters this year but fell far short.

"For 10 years it was always 'we don't have a Democratic Congress.' Now we don't have that excuse," said Gloria Saucedo, of the Los Angeles-based Hermandad Mexicana. "It's up to us."