For some reason, when conservatives protest they grab bigger headlines then when liberals protest.
Case in point, the Tea Party protesters have garnered all sorts of national attention.
So what do supporters of immigration reform have to do to grab headlines?
There will be a march in Chicago this Wednesday where some undocumented youth will come out of the shadows. Also Chicagoans will join others from across the nation for a coordinated national rally in Washington, D.C. on March 21.
If the media can pay attention to the Tea Party supporters, some of them gun-toting radicals, then they should pay equal attention to the human stories behind the need for Congress to pass immigration reform this year.
“There’s a feeling that if not this year, then when? We can’t wait any longer,” said Tania Unzueta, one of the organizers of the Chicago march coordinated by the Immigrant Youth Justice League.
One of their goals is to renew pressure on Congress to pass the DREAM Act that would create a path to legalization for undocumented youth brought here by their parents.
Unzueta, 26, is one of these students, and I first wrote about her case nine years ago for the Chicago Tribune. Originally from Mexico, her parents brought her here at the age of 10 years old. She excelled in college and high school and has become a leader in the community. But she is still undocumented since Congress has failed to pass a law to help young people like her.
Eight other young people like Tania will come out of the shadows for tomorrow’s protest. There are as many as a million young people in the United States who could qualify for the DREAM Act. These are students who have done well in school, are culturally American and have so much to contribute to this country.
This Chicago march precedes a national march that organizers hope will bring more than 100,000 people to Washington, D.C. in a “March for America.”
They want to send a message to Congress and President Obama, who during the campaign promised to work on immigration reform in his first year in office.
“It’s time to deliver,” said Flavia Jimenez with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR.)
ICIRR is working with community groups to mobilize 10,000 people from Illinois to ride a bus caravan to the rally.
“Immigration affects all of us. It’s not just a Latino problem,” said Alie Kabba, executive director of the United African Organization and a vice president on the ICIRR board.
Jimenez and Kabba are right. They need to show the American public that people from all ethnicities and classes would benefit from immigration reform.
“Every single day you are helped in one way by a person who is illegally in the United States,” Jimenez said.
And undocumented immigrants also pay sales tax and many pay income tax that they never reclaim.
The question is how can immigrant supporters shape the message to convince not just Congress but the general public that we need immigration reform?
They are starting to use social media like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word. Their voices need to be louder than those who are against immigration reform.
The Wednesday march starts at 11 a.m. at Union Park at Lake Street and Ashland Avenue and starting at 1 p.m. they will march to the Federal Plaza at downtown.