Busy Week For Immigrant Rights Activist In San Diego
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Aired 4/10/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Pedro Rios, Director, American Friends Service Committee
Ted Hilton, Founder, Taxpayer Revolution
It's a busy week for immigrant rights activists across the country, from San Diego to Washington D.C. Activists are taking to the streets for the National Day of Action for Immigration Reform Wednesday, as lawmakers are inching closer on an deal to reform America's immigration laws for the first time in decades.
In San Diego, people are rallying at noon outside the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to push her to back comprehensive immigration reform.
Also underway: a hunger strike, immigration reform resolutions and a march scheduled for Saturday to cap off an intense week on the immigration front.
"People are coming together to change the U.S immigration laws in ways never before seen," said Pedro Rios, Director of American Friends Service Committee.
Rios has helped organize many of this week's events and also attended Tuesday's San Diego City Council meeting, where the council approved a resolution that supports comprehensive immigration legislation and a pathway to citizenship for people living in the country illegally.
The Public Policy Institute of California estimates there are about 200,000 people living in San Diego County without legal status.
Ted Hilton, founder of Taxpayer Revolution and an advocate for border security, doesn't see eye to eye with Rios. Hilton admits the existing laws are outdated but he favors a piecemeal approach.
"I think you always find a certain number of congressmen who won't vote for something just because of one thing in that bill. And that's what happened in 2007," he said.
Hilton is referencing the year immigration legislation died despite a similar movement and support from then-President George W. Bush.
But Rios believes this time around is different.
"I think that there was a promise that President Obama made when he took office, and that was passing immigration reform. And his first term was up, and now he sees the pressure from immigrant communities," he said.
While there has been progress on the much anticipated bill from the main negotiators known as the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators, there's still no word on exactly when the bill will be unveiled.
The bill is expected to include a path to eventual citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who are living in the country illegally, a guest worker program and tighter border security.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that the deal may also include expanded surveillance of the U.S border with Mexico, provide an electronic exit system at airports and sea ports and call on employers to adopt systems like E-Verify to check workers legal status.
Many now expect the bill to be released next week at the earliest.