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Korean Americans Prepare for Mass Mobilization: Congress Approaches a Pivotal Moment in the Immigration Reform Debate

By March 31, 2006No Comments

Downloadable:English and Korean press statements

March 21, 2006                         Contacts: EunSook Lee, NAKASEC  (323) 937.3703
For Immediate Release                             Dae Joong Yoon, KRC  (323) 937.3718
                                                            Kent Chaegu Lee, KRCC  (773) 506.9158
                                                      Yu Soung Mun, YKASEC  (718) 460.5600

Korean Americans Prepare for Mass Mobilization:
Congress Approaches a Pivotal Moment in the Immigration Reform Debate

In December 2005, the House passed the “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” (H.R. 4437), the worst immigration bill in nearly a century.  This anti-immigrant bill, sponsored by Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Peter King (R-NY), is dangerously close to becoming the law.  In early March, the Senate Judiciary Committee began its debate on immigration reform.  And, until recently, it appeared that the Senate Judiciary Committee was poised to introduce a similar harsh enforcement-only proposal.

Given these extremely high stakes, immigrant communities in cities across the nation have mounted unprecedented actions and mobilized like never before.  In Chicago hundreds-of-thousands marched in the street and in Washington, D.C. tens-of-thousands rallied in front of the Capitol.  In Los Angeles, to carry on this momentum, diverse communities are in the midst of preparing for a large-scale March for Immigrant Rights on Saturday, March 25 and Sunday, March 26.

Following these visible protests, during last Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, it was clear the tide may be turning.  Finally, after two weeks of considering enforcement provisions, the Senate Judiciary Committee rolled up their sleeves and began discussing how to seriously and humanely deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.  In addition, members discussed how to structure a workable guest worker program.  The committee took a remarkable step forward and it appears that the majority support a compromise based on the Mc-Cain-Kennedy bill.  When Congress returns from recess on March 27, the committee is expected to reconvene and address this issue.  After setting an arbitrary deadline for when the committee had to complete its deliberations, Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), on Friday, offered his own immigration reform bill containing many of the same provisions in H.R. 4437.  

This week is particularly critical for communities to act, especially with the possibility that the bill emerging from the Senate Judiciary Committee will include a legalization component and the introduction of Senator Frist’s enforcement bill.  During this week of recess, our communities, now stirred, must sustain the momentum by calling our Senators and participating in the March for Immigrant Rights this weekend.

As well, given the importance of the Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up, D.C.-based and local groups, along with NAKASEC have quickly developed a strong consensus to organize a national action in Washington, D.C. on March 27.