Pressure mounting to legalize immigrants

By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times

They’ve pushed and pulled, marched on the national Mall and issued demands — including some to the president, which the White House hustled to meet — and now, immigrant rights groups find they’ve forced immigration and legalization to the top of the crowded congressional agenda.

The next test of their power will come Saturday, when the groups hope to turn out hundreds of thousands of supporters in rallies across the country, all demanding that Congress and Mr. Obama slow interior enforcement and move to legalize illegal immigrants.

“For us, what we’re clear at is that our elected officials don’t move out of courage,” said Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). “They move when there’s pressure from our community, and we actually demonstrate to them there’s impact on people’s lives.”

When this year started, immigration was an afterthought issue, as Congress was facing high national unemployment, a huge deficit, an unfinished health care bill, and energy and financial regulation bills next in line.

But immigrant rights groups refused to accept that calculus and have cajoled and pushed their way into the discussion. Along the way, they’ve been helped by politics, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election bid in Nevada depending on tremendous Hispanic support.

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