Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford co-hosted an hour of testimonials by members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Monday night, on the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ birthday, to draw attention to immigration reform, which they defined as a civil rights issue in her legacy.
“[Immigration reform] is the civil and human rights issue of our generation, just like the civil rights issues of the '60s that was fought by African-Americans, and the civil rights issue of women before it,” Horsford said. Immigration reform, he added, “must be advocated by all who believe in a sense of justice, equality and opportunity for every person.”
Horsford and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, both freshman members, served as moderators of the Congressional Black Caucus’ weekly hour on the floor, which on Monday was dedicated to discussing immigration reform. Members of the CBC who gave speeches spoke emphatically about how immigration reform — and the push for it — could not be construed as solely a Latino issue.
“This debate cannot solely rest on the shoulders of our Latino sisters and brothers,” said Rep. Yvette Clark of New York, arguing that the sole focus on Hispanics had unfairly “skewed depiction of the true diversity of the immigrant population resident in our country ... We will make sure this debate is as diverse as the population it encompasses.”
Immigration has earned a second wind in Congress, after Latino voters — who pay close attention to immigration reform — turned out in droves for Democrats in the 2012 election. Broadening the focus of the immigration debate to other, affected ethnic groups that maintain other political preferences helps to define comprehensive reform as a initiative that crosses social and party lines.
Horsford spoke about the Latino, African and Asian immigrants, as well as the resident black and Native American populations of Nevada’s 4th Congressional District to make the point that his district “reflects the changing demographics of our country, but it also reflects the broken system, which is our immigration system.”
“We throw talent away. We tear families apart. We show disregard for those trying to live the American dream,” Horsford said, recalling constituents. “Children see their parents deported, students get stuck in an educational purgatory ... and mothers and fathers can’t provide for their family or care for their loved ones without keeping them in the shadows.”
“They can’t wait any longer. We can’t wait any longer ... we have to continue strengthening our border but we will act on comprehensive immigration reform without delay,” Horsford said. “As Rosa Parks said, it is just time.”