The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Beatriz Lopez,, 202-412-7396

Latino Leaders Announce Civic Engagement Campaign to Win Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2013

Groups Pledge to Hold Congress Accountable


A new campaign to win congressional enactment of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 was announced Wednesday by leaders of national Latino civil rights and labor organizations. The groups issued a joint statement calling on President Obama and Congress to act immediately on reforms that will help the economy, workers, and families. Robust civic engagement and congressional accountability campaigns will be waged throughout next year, with report cards on Congress' performance to be issued before the 2014 election. The campaign follows the 2012 election in which a record 12.5 million Latinos voted.

Issuing the joint statement were Janet Murguia, National President and CEO of National Council of La Raza; Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of Service Employees International Union; Brent A. Wilkes, National Executive Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens; Ben Monterroso, National Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota; Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO/President of Voto Latino; Hector Sanchez, Executive Director, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; Chris Espinosa, National Director of Advocacy of Hispanic Federation; : Max Sevillia, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs of NALEO Educational Fund. The statement follows:


December 12, 2012

Latino civil rights, community and labor organizations are here to announce our unqualified support for comprehensive immigration reform. We believe our nation's voters sent a clear message to our elected leaders that they expect action on the outstanding issues facing our country, including immigration reform. It is time to fix a broken immigration system that serves no one well -- not business or the economy, not immigrants and our communities. We must seize the moment to finally fix this problem that has eluded us for a generation and that has created so much division and heartache in our nation. The time to act is now.

We fully expect that President Obama will move aggressively on reform early next year, and we call on the House and Senate leadership to bring comprehensive immigration reform to their chambers for action. The president and Congress are at a unique moment in history that commands their leadership on comprehensive immigration reform that comports with our national values and with the will of the voters.

Comprehensive immigration reform must include a clear roadmap to citizenship for hard working, taxpaying immigrants; a system that builds the strength and unity of working people; keeps families together; guarantees the same rights, obligations, basic fairness for all workers, no matter where they come from; and internal and border law enforcement regimen that focuses on preventing criminals, drug cartels and other bad actors from entering the U.S. or engaging in criminal activities.

We are cognizant that a positive, legislative outcome depends on an engaged and informed citizenry. The Latino community and immigrants need access to timely information on congressional action or lack thereof; on citizenship programs and voter registration. Our organizations will continue providing that information and assistance through our successful civic engagement programs.

Our voter education campaigns will monitor the performance of Congress as it debates comprehensive immigration reform. Members of Congress will be rated on how aggressively they championed comprehensive immigration reform or whether they tried to block it. With these report cards, Latinos will be able to determine who deserves their support in the 2014 election cycle.

During the recent election, 12.5 million Latino voters demonstrated their commitment to the electoral process. The Latino voter engagement remains strong and will only continue to grow at or beyond the voter participation rates of recent years. Our organizations will work to ensure that the growth of the Latino vote endures and remains a vital part of our democracy.

We are also deeply concerned about the current debate about taxes and the federal budget. Remember that the Latino community wants to make sure that the economy works for everybody, not just the wealthy. It's time for Congress to come to a fair solution that does not burden the middle class, so that it can deal with other important issues like immigration reform.

Voters have long favored a common sense comprehensive immigration reform that greatly benefits our economy and keeps families together. Congress must pass a bill that the president can sign. Do what's right for our country, for workers and for families.

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.