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100-Day Countdown Clock Started for Obama Border Reform

January 22, 2009

Tucson, AZ – Arizona activists rallied in Tucson yesterday urging President Obama to keep his campaign promise to address immigration reform in his first 100 days on the job. Immigration rights organization Border Action Network wants a plan that respects human rights and preserves families, according to the group's Katie O'Connor.

"The first concern is obviously stopping the devastating raids that have been happening throughout the Latino communities. There should also be some sort of pathway to citizenship for the millions of people who are living in the shadows in this country."

Organizers of the Tucson rally hope to count Arizona Senator John McCain as an ally on immigration reform again, says O'Connor.

"We feel that, since Senator McCain has been a proponent of immigration reform in the past (and) has sponsored several immigration reform bills, the time is now for him to stand up once again."

Fellow Republicans criticized McCain for sponsoring a 2007 reform bill that died in the U.S. Senate.

O'Connor says current federal immigration policies have failed, producing an Arizona political climate where some state lawmakers tend to point their fingers at migrants.

"Illegal immigrants are the scapegoat, and I think our state legislature focuses on that instead of proposing bills that promote the well-being of all Arizona residents."

The Border Action Network argues that, without federal reform, anti-immigrant state legislation will increase now that Arizona has a more-conservative governor and legislature.

Reform opponents argue now is not the time to legalize millions of unauthorized workers when so many American citizens are unemployed. President Obama has voiced support for allowing undocumented immigrants in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and be given an opportunity for citizenship.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ