Deep Connection Between Immigration and Civil Rights Movement

The first part of the 50th anniversary of the commemoration of the March on Washington took place on Saturday, August 24th.  Unlike the original event, as marchers made their way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and down the National Mall, there was a sea of new faces that were marching for equality.

Immigration advocates joined the march to rally around issues of comprehensive immigration reform.  The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 opened America’s doors and radically changed immigration policy.  The impetus for the change in federal law came from the hunger for change and equality created by the civil rights movement.  Ironically, these changes enacted 48 years ago created huge shifts in America’s demographics that are seen today.  So it is only fitting that as the current debate over immigration reform continues, immigrants use some of the same tactics from the civil rights movement in order to humanize the issues.

Representative John Lewis, D-Ga., who was a speaker at the original event made a plea for immigration reform from the podium.  He stated, “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.”   The rallying cry 50 years ago was for jobs and freedom.  These same issues continue to be relevant for immigrants today.

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