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Why activists prefer coalitions
Congress.org - News : Why activists prefer coalitions
Immigrant rights groups strengthen numbers by working together.
By Ambreen Ali
The immigration debate has become primarily about the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., overshadowing less contentious parts of the bill.
Aman Kapoor and his colleagues at Immigration Voice want to change the nation's immigration laws, but they are not concerned with the illegal immigration issue. What they want is less politically charged: an easier path to permanent residency for well-educated foreigners who come to the U.S. on work visas.
So why doesn't Kapoor go it alone, rather than tying his cause to the larger call for a comprehensive immigration overhaul?
"Nobody has the political capital to push their political agenda by themselves. And if they do that, everybody else pushes them down," he said.
Kapoor's group is part of a coalition called Reform Immigration for America that wants Congress to pass a bill that changes immigration laws comprehensively — tying together issues from visas for same-sex couples to the handling of illegal immigrants by police.
Hundreds of groups make up this pro-overhaul flank of the immigration movement. By working together, they can pool resources to outnumber opponents, bring out large numbers at protest rallies, and be effective in lobbying campaigns.
There's an extra advantage for Kapoor, an Indian citizen, and his fellow H1-B visa holders.
As non-citizens, they don't have a vote like others in the coalition do. Congress is structured so that lawmakers are most interested in the concerns of their constituents, which is where allies and coalitions come into play.
"I think the system works for those who are willing to speak up. What we are doing is in the best of American traditions. We are speaking up in a peaceful manner," the 38-year-old database administrator said.
Kapoor, a green-card holder, doesn't have a dog in the fight over illegal immigration. His fellow activists are H1-B visa holders who want Congress to do something about the 25-year backlog on their green cards.
They have the backing of major corporations who also lobby on the issue, though the companies are more interested in increasing the number of H1-B visas issued than in easing the path to green cards.
Immigration Voice has tried standalone bills before, without success.
"Frankly none of us has the majority that is required to get something done," he said. "If you look at the bigger picture, things would not happen in a vacuum. We would be debating and arguing against our own agenda."
That doesn't mean all is rosy in the coalition. Kapoor said most groups are looking out for themselves.
"Everybody is clinging on to their set of provisions that they would rather see through in the bigger deal. But if any two categories don't compete with each other, then no group has any issues with what the other group is proposing," he said, adding that there haven't been any points of conflict yet.
Ambreen Ali covers activism for Congress.org.
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Donor access question http://immigrationvoice.org/forum/fo...ml#post3509026
Use the info in the post at your risk. None of this is legal advice.
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