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By Scott Shigeoka
October 21, 2013
Caption : President Obama describes immigration reform as an “American issue” that will allow the country’s economy and business to grow faster.     

The U.S. government is reopened and back to its offices, and President Obama has his eyes set on immigration reform.

“The day after [the government reopens], I’m going to be pushing to say call a vote for immigration reform,” Obama told Univision’s Claudia Botero. He continued by describing immigration reform as an “American issue” that will allow the country’s economy and business to grow faster.

“We know that the deficits will be reduced if immigration reform passes because people coming out of the shadows [will be] paying more taxes,” Obama said. “If I have to join with other advocates and continue to speak out on that and keep pushing, I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country and now is the time to do it.”

These advocates are close to home for President Obama. Earlier this month, eight U.S. House Democrats were arrested in an act of non-violent civil disobedience at the pro-immigration reform rally “Camino Americano: March for Dignity and Respect.”

Thousands of supporters descended onto the National Mall in Washington, D.C., calling on Congress to act with legislation for comprehensive immigration reform; a group which included Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Al Green (D-TX), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Charlie Rangel (D-NY)—these eight legislators were arrested along with over 100 other demonstrators for charges of “crowding, obstructing and incommoding.” 

This is arrest number 45 for Rep. Lewis—a civil rights icon, Freedom Rider, and the only speaker from the 1963 March on Washington to return to stage at this year’s 50th Anniversary. Lewis was previously arrested for nonviolent demonstrations against the apartheid in South Africa and genocide in Darfur.

“I believe that we did accomplish a great deal,” Lewis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We were trying to dramatize the issue, put a face on it. Not just members of Congress, but being there with hundreds of other people, especially DREAMers, young people, children.”

Of the approximate 11.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. who would be impacted by the proposed reform, 1.4 million are Millennials who were brought into the country as children and likely meet the requirements of the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative.

“You’re never too old to stand up for what is right, what is fair and what is just,” Rep. Lewis said. “If you see something that is not right, then you have to speak up and speak out and find a way to get in the way.”

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