As Congress returned to Washington Monday following the August recess, immigration reform advocates continued to press their case on various home fronts.
Events themed "Get Back to Work on Immigration Reform" were held in San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, Bakersfield, Modesto, Fresno, Palmdale, Sonoma, Colton and Placentia Monday. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor joined with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce at L.A. City Hall with a similar message on the economic benefits of an immigration law overhaul.
In Colton, a coalition of labor, faith-based groups and small business owners gathered at La Carreta Mexican Style Products to ask Rep. Gary Miller (R-Rancho Cucamonga) to support legislation that would enable undocumented immigrants to attain permanent residency and eventual citizenship. The coalition includes Mi Familia Vota, SEIU United Long Term Care Workers, Organizing for Action, Latino Voter Registration Project and the Inland-based immigrant assistance organization Libreria del Pueblo.
The coalition released a study that claims passage of the immigration bill would bring the Inland area some $711 million in new jobs, business opportunities and other economic growth.
Miller has been a hardliner on immigration issues. But since the 2011 redistricting forced Miller to move from his Orange County base into the Inland Empire, he has soft-pedaled his usual pro-enforcement statements. About half the population of Miller's district and one-third of eligible voters there are Latino.
In an interview last month, Miller stressed that he had not changed his views, but he said realistic discussion about immigration reform was only beginning.
"We need to resolve our immigration issue without a doubt, but we need to make sure the American people are put back to work who want to go to work," Miller said. "That should be our number one focus."
Miller is rated A+ for his positions on the website report card of Numbers USA, which wants to restrict immigration. He has co-authored bills that would bar undocumented immigrants from renting homes or opening bank accounts. He also voted against the DREAM Act, which defers deportations of young people brought into the country without authorization.