RENTON, Wash. – Immigrant rights activists energized by a new Democratic administration and majorities on Capitol Hill are gearing up for a fresh political battle to push through a proposed bill from President Joe Biden that would open a pathway to citizenship for up to 11 million people.
The multimillion-dollar #WeAreHome campaign was launched Monday by national groups including United We Dream and the United Farm Workers Foundation. It starts with ads on Facebook and other social media to reach lawmakers and the constituents who can pressure them.
“We are home,” a young woman's voice declares in the first video spot showing immigrants in essential jobs such as cleaning and health care. “Home, even when they say we don't belong.”
The effort is a longshot. Immigration remains a third rail dividing Republicans and Democrats in the U.S., and opponents of the measure have pledged to fight it. Although Democrats now account for 50 of 100 senators, with a deciding vote by Vice President Kamala Harris, the bill will need at least 60 votes to pass.
Opponents promised to launch their own social media blitz, as well as TV and radio ads. They also said they would write letters and meet virtually with members of Congress.
But organizers say they enjoy the momentum of a new administration and growing public support for giving people in the U.S. illegally a chance at citizenship. The activists note they are also more seasoned.
“The movement has matured,” said Lorella Praeli, the Peruvian-born co-president of Community Change, among the national groups leading the campaign. “It's more diverse, experienced.”
Praeli, now 32, was brought to the U.S. when she was 10 so she could get better medical treatment after losing a leg in an accident. She became an immigrant activist in her teens.