WASHINGTON – As legislators negotiate how to revive an immigration bill, the once largely mum American public is using the second chance to campaign and organize massive rallies to voice their opinions in the likelihood that the controversial bill will resurface on the Senate floor in the near future.
Both supporters and opponents of the immigration reform bill began to campaign or stage rallies this week to make their voices heard in the nation's capital.
A group of grassroots advocates kicked-off the first of their three-day March for America rally at the Washington National Monument on Thursday. During the rally, participants will urge Congress to enact tougher laws against illegal immigrants.
Some of the major concerns of the protestors include border security, rising crime rates, overstretched schools and hospital, job loss, and the Spanish dominating American society.
"All of this is adding up, and it's making America mad," Suzanne Wide, co-organizer of March for America, said to The Washington Post.
Organizers hope the rally will draw up to 10,000 people on Saturday.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the nation, trains carrying immigrant rights advocates began their trek from Los Angeles to Washington to lobby support for illegal immigrants on Wednesday.
The "Dreams Across America" campaign, organized in part by the Roman Catholic Church, brings dozens of legal immigrants to cities across the United States to tell their stories in an effort to ease concerns and misconceptions about border security and amnesty for illegal immigrants, according to The New York Times.
Long-time immigrant rights supporter Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles, was present at the send-off and prayed for the campaign activists who are scheduled to reach Washington on June 19.
A separate caravan, which left Los Angeles on Sunday, is expected to arrive in Washington Thursday to deliver 1 million letters from people asking for a path to become citizens to a group of senators, according to The Associated Press.
At the heart of both advocacy efforts is a controversial comprehensive immigration reform bill, composed by a bipartisan group of senators and White House negotiators, which was stalled last week by a failed cloture motion. The bill provides a pathway for 12 million illegal immigrants to become citizen, increases border security measures, and enforces stricter laws barring employers from hiring illegal immigrants.
Many of the bill's immigrant proponents support the bill with reservations. They urge the passage of the bill as a first step and hope that in the process of it becoming law there will be changes to it which would be more favorable to immigrants including increased protection for the immigrant family.
The issue of a comprehensive immigration reform bill has increasingly received more support from Christian leaders and churches who call for a humane and biblical response to the immigration crisis.
Across the nation, churches have joined together for a New Sanctuary Movement to shelter illegal immigrants facing deportation considering most law enforcement officers do not enter church property to arrest illegal immigrants.
Catholic dioceses nationwide participated in a day of prayer for immigration reform last Sunday.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, were in Washington on Wednesday hammering out a potential deal to garner Republican support by requiring some $4 billion to be spent on border security and workplace enforcement, according to AP. Republican architects say that the agreement might be set as early as Thursday.