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Dedicated High Tech Activists Keep Fighting For Immigration Reform. By Roger Algase

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When one is continually following the latest immigration reform news, as I am addicted to doing, it is easy to grow discouraged and cynical over the hypocrisy, negativity and obstruction of reform in Congress, especially in the Tea Party influenced House Republican caucus.

The now-you-see-'em-now-you-don't piecemeal "reform" bills in Rep. Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA) House Judiciary Committee, at least some of which appear to be nothing more than enforcement-only poison pills designed to scuttle any eventual reform deal; Speaker John Boehner's categorical refusal to conference with the Senate on any immigration bill; and even some of the provisions in the Senate-passed CIR bill, S.744, throwing various deserving groups of immigrants under the bus, such as siblings of US citizens (mainly from Latin America) and diversity visa applicants (mainly from Africa), not to mention big chunks of the entire H-1B program, are enough to make one disillusioned about America's capacity for fundamental fairness, racial tolerance and social justice through our ostensibly democratic political process.

Therefore, it was extremely refreshing and encouraging to be invited to spend an afternoon last Sunday, December 15, with a dedicated and determined group of young reformers connected with fwd.us, an immigration advocacy group established by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley luminaries.

Having somehow (I am not sure exactly how - maybe by a random mouse click on my part?) been put on an invitation list, I was able, along with my wife, to join a group of somewhere around 40 people (almost all of them young enough to have been my grandchildren) for an informal holiday gathering in a Soho studio to meet for a snack and drinks and to talk about immigration reform.

There were few, if any, details about reform discussed at the gathering - no discussion of lobbying or advocacy specifics or of the latest proposals, Instead, it was an opportunity to share ideas about what reform meant to the people there and to hear about their experiences.

There were DREAMERS; there were people who had participated in the recent pro-reform "hackathon", there were committed organizers and political activists, and there were people beginning or developing their careers in the IT industry.

I met people from Europe, Asia and Latin America as well as native-born Americans. I am sure that many different backgrounds and life experiences were represented, with the main common factor appearing to be a high level of education and political sophistication.

But what impressed me most of all was the passion, the deep commitment to reform among all the young people there - their determination, not just to make it easier for IT professionals to receive visas, but to provide legal status and a pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans who are currently in this country without legal status, due to harsh and discriminatory laws which would have made it impossible for all but a few of them to come here legally.

Fifty years ago, as a recent Harvard Law School graduate working in my first law firm job - in a small New York civil rights law office which included Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. among its clients, I encountered the passion and dedication of young people (and older ones as well) fighting against racism and discrimination, just as those battling to bring about immigration reform are doing today.

Meeting dedicated young fwd.us members such as Lisa, Luna, Ana and other young people I spoke with at the gathering was an encouraging and enlightening experience. I want to thank them for making it possible for me to join them last Sunday.

More than that, they convinced me that, despite the hold that bigotry, negativity and cowardice seem to have over so many politicians in the halls of Congress, we will have reform, hopefully sooner rather than later. These young people renewed my faith in America.




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Updated 12-19-2013 at 12:26 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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