Fighting for the 11 Million

I knew that I was working with some pretty high rollers at the Center for American Progress when our first Immigration team meeting was promptly interrupted by a phone call for our Vice President.  Rolling her eyes, she stated, “Sorry, I have to take this…it’s the White House again.”

Count this among my many daily reminders that the people I am working with are at the top of their field, are connected with all of the major Democratic politicians and allies, and put out research that regularly gets cited by all of the major news outlets and promoted by Senators as evidence of the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

When I’m not weaving through cars while bike-commuting to work, or following breaking zoo-related news stories that overshadow anything happening in Congress, I’m watching way more C-Span than I ever thought possible.   Lucky for me, my long-held interest in immigration has proven particularly relevant this summer:  interning with the Immigration Team at CAP has allowed me to plunge head-first into the world of politics and advocacy, all while doing policy research to add to the team’s arsenal of data and studies proving the benefits of immigration reform.  As many know, people from both sides of the aisle are working to pass new immigration legislation that will provide a path to citizenship for the current 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

With the bill weaving its way through the Senate, my job thus far has essentially consisted of mobilizing for the Senate floor:  doing policy research supporting immigration reform in areas like healthcare, benefits, security, and family reunification.  Along the way, I have created fact sheets and talking points to be distributed to other immigration advocates and Democratic Senators.  I essentially think of myself as a member of Obama’s army.  And the CAP connection comes with perks—I had the opportunity to hear Obama speak about student debt at the White House at the end of May.   I also saw Bo Obama at a distance, which was perhaps equally as exciting.

At CAP, as news stories unfold quickly, our team is constantly at the ready to refute, promote, and argue whatever points of contention are at the forefront of the headlines.  My individual research has benefited from the fact that CAP consists of so many different expert teams in various policy areas:  I have had the opportunity to work with a health policy expert to craft arguments supporting immigrant health care, I collaborated with the poverty research team to develop talking points on benefits, and I provided research assistance to members of the Economic policy team as they put together quantitative studies pointing to the economic benefits of immigration.

As the summer proceeds, we all have our fingers crossed that the work we’re doing does not become derailed by the increasing political polarization plaguing Congress.  Meanwhile, this internship has exposed me to some interesting policy areas and immersed me in DC progressive politics.  I will hope for the bill to keep on making headway and, fingers crossed, maybe I will rub elbows with a few more Obama’s.


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