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Immigration and civil rights linked together

This week, America celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. That generation of Americans called on the federal government to make changes about how jobs and civil rights were addressed. At that time, Jim Crow laws were still in effect, and segregation (especially in the southern states) oppressed so many that a national movement was necessary to bring about change.

The march was highlighted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech, which is largely known as the turning point of the civil rights era. This week, a number of political and cultural luminaries have given speeches calling for America to make a similar change when it comes to civil rights for immigrants.

A number of changes came out of the March. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, which includes protections such as Title VII which protects minorities in the workplace, is a regular part of American civil rights law. Also, a version of immigration reform was born as well, through the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Like the Civil Rights Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act is viewed as the turning point for how immigrants would be viewed as contributors to an emerging society.

Now, as immigration reform stands as a transformative issue, many see that another movement must take place in order to humanize the plight of people who ostensibly entered the country illegally, but are poised to be productive members of society. To some, it has already started with the election of President Obama to another term. To others, it will take increased pressure on the House of Representatives to pass the pending reform bill.

Source: ABC News.com, Civil rights and immigration history connected, August 28, 2013

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