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Know Your Rights
Source: WNYC Public Radio
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Immigrant Advocates Struggle to Rally Support

New York‘s immigrant advocates are scrambling to try to keep immigration reform on the agenda in Washington. Yesterday some of them hand-delivered what they called "care packages" to nearly a dozen congress members heading back to the Capitol. WNYC’s Marianne McCune reports.

All spring and early this summer, members of the House of Representatives said they would wait to take up the immigration debate until after the Senate reached some compromise. But that compromise failed, and with just 3 weeks left before August recess, many immigrants are begging the House to act now. Yesterday, Irania Sanchez from the group Make the Road by Walking delivered a red, white and blue lunchbox-shaped package to Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez.

The box contained a letter calling for pro-immigrant reforms, such as a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. Also inside: photos and stories from immigrants who face deportation — including Sanchez’s brother. She says when he was 16, the two of them came together from Nicaragua and applied for the same visas at the same time, but she got hers and he didn’t.

Sanchez says, he’s not the only one in this situation, the system as it is doesn’t work. House leaders have said they’re unlikely to take up comprehensive immigration reform this session. But there are two or three smaller measures that could still come up for debate — one would allow undocumented agricultural workers to remain legally in the US; another — called the Dream Act — would permit undocumented students who came here as children to get legal by completing two years of college or military service.

Last week, a group of students in California fasted to draw renewed attention to the Dream Act. But some in Congress oppose legalization for anyone who broke the law by coming here and they’re calling for measures to increase enforcement. A spokesman for the House subcommittee on immigration says, with the Iraq war and other issues pressing, it’s unclear whether congress will consider any immigration proposals this summer. For WNYC, I’m Marianne McCune.