Fight for immigration reform mirrors civil rights fight 50 years ago

Over 250,000 protesters gathered in Washington in August of 1963. The key issues on their minds were jobs and equality for all.

As people come together on the 50th anniversary to commemorate that event, a key issue has been added to the fight: immigration reform. Last Saturday, tens of thousands of people pushed down to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the National Mall. Comprehensive immigration reform was demanded by speakers.

A speaker at the 1963 event returned to speak again today. Said Democrat John Lewis, a representative from Georgia, “It doesn’t make sense that millions of our people are living in the shadows. Bring them out into the light and set them on the path to citizenship.”

Renata Teodoro, who came here from Brazil when she was a child, studied the tactics used in the civil rights movement and appropriated them into her own efforts to fight for immigration reform.

America, which has long had its roots in encouraging immigration, clamped up during the late 19th and early 20th century as immigrants swelled. Numerous acts and laws were established to limit certain nationalities and the number of peoples from any one country. John F. Kennedy spoke on the matter in 1963 and criticized “the inequity and maldistribution of the quota numbers.”

While two years later his complaints were addressed by law implemented by President Lyndon B. Johnson, America has not had major immigration reform for decades. Problems still exist today, problems that deal with aging legislation made to address a different time and set of circumstances completely.

If people continue to come together like they have been doing in recent weeks, though, then change can be effected, just as it was 50 years ago in the fight for civil rights.

More on Immigration Reform:

  • Immigration Reform 2013
  • Gang of 8
  • Earned Citizenship
  • Streamlining Immigration
  • Strengthening Border Security
  • More Accountability for Employers Hiring Undocumented Immigrants