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Legal Lesson: Still fighting for immigration reform amid government crisis

In the last month, especially with the government shutdown, it would be expected that immigration issues have been put at a standstill. That is NOT the case. Regardless of what is going on with the debt ceiling and the government shutdown, people are still fighting for immigration reform.

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez is an immigration activist who works with GetEQUAL. He is an illegal immigrant who organizes movements that span across the country. He made news in September by organizing a protest that resulted in more than 100 protesters getting arrested. The issue they wanted to address, when there is immigration reform, is to make sure that all immigrants are treated fairly and as equals.

Once again, another protest led by Sousa-Rodriguez drew national attention on Oct. 5. The Camino Americano Rally for dignity and respect was set in several states as a national voice to reach politicians and voting citizens alike.

Shortly after that, on Oct. 8 in Washington, D.C., there was a large protest at the Capitol. More than 150 people were arrested for disturbing the peace. This included eight lawmakers who sat in on the event. Protesters blocked the street with their bodies, creating a disturbance to attract attention to their issue.

Later that day, lawmakers addressed the people at the rally and told them they can expect to have a vote on the issue before the end of the year.

Illegal immigrant numbers are on the rise after many years of staying steady. This might be a direct influence of the government introducing the new bills.

New bills include many rights to illegal immigrants in California and beyond:

• providing benefits

• allowing driver's licenses

• giving benefit of in-state tuition

• now eligible to get a license to practice law (after passing the bar of course)

Earlier this year, an immigration bill was passed by the Senate, which included tightening the border, but allowed a more clear-cut passage to citizenship. There was a new immigration bill introduced to Congress on Oct. 2, 2013. This new bill includes a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.

Immigration is a subject that is taboo for many government representatives because it is so controversial, especially in New York, Illinois and states bordering Mexico. It has been pushed back after many other political stories took the spotlight with Egypt, Syria and our internal government problems. Everyone needs to stand up and do their part to help these defenseless people.

James Rudolph, J.D., Washington University, B.A., Accounting and Finance, is a legal columnist for SDGLN. He is a San Diego lawyer, works with clients nationally, and fights for his clients rights concerning immigration. Contact him at 619-235-0010 or JBR@rudolphbaker.com for information on services.