Thursday, June 22, 2006

“Democracy Summer” voter registration drive to begin July 1

While the immigration issue seems to have reached a roadblock in Washington for the time being, the fact that it will most likely be resurrected just in time for the November elections should not be forgotten. Although it appears that the Congressional Republicans who first initiated the debate have no intention to press the issue at the current time, it can not be forgotten that the key focus of the debate has always been the creation of a distraction and a wedge issue to insulate themselves from the failures of the last few years.

Over the Summer they plan to keep this issue in the public mind by holding sham “hearings” to “get the pulse” of the American people. Like a Bush campaign rally, these “hearings” will be heavily orchestrated to make sure that the positions of the extremist right-wing get the most exposure possible. Along with the usual array of “experts” from far right organizations like CIS and FAIR, we can probably count on a mix of minutemen and other closet white supremacists groups to send representatives also.

Between their mock hearings, and the media campaign waged every day by the FOX, Lou Dobbs and a myriad of other right-wing front men, the American people will be fed a constant diet of anti-immigrant rhetoric all summer long, while there will be no voice of opposition coming from the other side.

BUT there is one way to offset this campaign of hatred and lies. By making sure that come November, by shear force of numbers, the right wing hate machine is shut down. We can help to make sure the power of the immigrant community is felt at the ballot box.

Two things MUST be done:

  • Assist Legal residents to apply for citizenship

  • Register ALL the eligible Latino and other ethnic voters as possible

  • The number of eligible legal residents who could apply for citizenship is estimated to be as high as 8 million. The number of unregistered voters whose voices must be heard is even greater than that. In the key swing state of Florida alone 600,000 new voters could join the rolls. What would those 600,00 voters have meant in 2000? What would a million or more new voters today mean in November?

    In an effort to register at least a million new voters this summer, We Are America, a coalition of immigrants activists groups is initiating “Democracy Summer”, a voter education and registration drive that will take place in all fifty states.

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    On July 1st, grassroots organizations all over the country will launch Democracy Summer – a coordinated effort to strengthen the power of immigrant communities and our allies at the ballot box. We will engage our communities to register voters, help eligible immigrants to become citizens, learn about immigration reform legislation and engage students, parents, teachers neighbors and clergy like never before.

    Democracy Summer is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate and participate in our democracy.

    Here is an opportunity for average Americans of good conscience, of every ethnic and national background to get involved in the true meaning of Democracy. Assuring that all those who are eligible to have their voices heard in the great debate are indeed heard. We have the opportunity to prevent the far right from once again perverting our electoral process by forcing red herrings and strawmen to the forefront of political debate, while the real issues, the issues that effect every Americans future are left out of the discussion. The politics of hate, fear and lies must end … and we have the power to help make that happen.

    To help contact:
    We Are America

    You can organize an event in your area, volunteer to help with one, or just help spread the word. Talk with neighbors and friends let them know how important this issue is. Volunteer to help tutor eligible legal residents so they can pass their citizenship tests. There are a multitude of ways , both large and small that you can take part in this effort. There is much talk about taking back America … here is one opportunity to actually participate in that activity.

    Action Tools:

    The following action tools are available at We Are Americas website:

    We Are America is looking for volunteers to:

    1) Teach-Ins about the Senate and House bills
    Educate your community about the Senate and House bills and what they can do to help make sure that real and comprehensive immigration reform becomes law and that immoral and hateful proposals do not. Check back in with this site for a teach-in curriculum that will be made available for you to use and adapt to your local needs. At this event you can also recruit participants to take part in upcoming events and civic engagement activities.

    2) Local lobby visits to your Members of Congress
    Let them know that a growing number of their constituents want real and comprehensive immigration reform now. Meet with your Senators and Members of Congress, start a letter-writing campaign, or organize a call-in day.

    3) Citizenship workshops to help legal permanent residents become citizens
    There are hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants in the United States who are qualified to become citizens. As citizens they could vote and increase our power on immigration issues. Forms and direction on how other organizations have successfully launched citizenship workshops will be made available on this site soon.

    4) Voter registration drives
    Register people to vote and educate them about what is at stake in the immigration reform debate. Encourage members of your community to pledge that they will each register at least 10 people to vote on July 1st.

    5) Press Events and Press Statements
    Highlight your efforts to engage the community around comprehensive immigration reform and increase civic participation in immigrant communities. Hold a press conference or release a press statement announcing your organization's plans for Democracy Summer.

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