Activists, unions launch postcard campaign for immigrants’ rights

The Associated Press
Thursday May 16, 2002

LOS ANGELES — A nationwide postcard campaign aimed at winning legal rights for illegal immigrants, was launched Wednesday in 30 American cities by a coalition of immigrant groups, labor unions and church officials. 

Called “A Million Voices for Legalization, the groups hope to deliver a million red, white and blue postcards to President Bush before the midterm elections in November. 

Kicking off the campaign in Los Angeles, United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez said illegal and undocumented workers are barred by law from obtaining Social Security cards, drivers licenses and bank accounts. 

“They need to be respected in the same way as other working Americans,” he said. “We want President Bush to hear the voices of millions of Americans who want legalization.” 

Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Los Angeles, said a meeting last year between Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox had put immigrant rights in the national spotlight, but the attention shifted after Sept. 11. 

“We hope to revive that,” Solis said, following a kickoff rally in Washington, D.C. “It makes good economic sense to do so.” 

She said a program to reunite families is among the goals of the task force, which is drafting proposals to end the legal jeopardy for millions of immigrants from many nations. 

“I would like to see these people who are here, playing by the rules, receive legal status,” said Solis. 

The postcards are to be distributed at churches, community meetings and union halls. 

The message printed in languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Tagalog, Polish and French Creole says in part: “Everyday, immigrant workers make vital contributions to our economy, our communities and our nation. Nearly 50,000 members of America’s armed forces are immigrant soldiers. ... Unfortunately, our outdated immigration laws force many immigrants ... to live in fear for simply going to work each day.” 

Obtaining legal documents like drivers licenses and social security cards can help lift immigrants out of poverty, said Msgr. David O’Connell.