Civil rights are on the minds of many Americans as this week marked the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s histrocial "I have a dream" speech. But the celebration may be especially meaningful to immigrants who are currently in the country illegally.
Many immigrants celebrating the anniversary say that they are currently fighting for what Dr. King fought for a half century ago: equality. In fact, tens of thousand of people marched down the National Mall on Wednesday to commemorate Dr. King and to ask lawmakers to pass immigration reform.
One immigrants' rights group present at the commemoration said today's undocumented immigrants have a dream much like Dr. King's. They dream of living and working in the country legally.
‘‘One of the big reasons immigrant groups wanted to participate was to show the connection,’’ said the advocacy director of the group Casa de Maryland.
Two years after Dr. King's famous "dream" speech, the federal government passed the most notable immigration reform in history with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
After years of closing off immigration to many parts of the world, the legislation re-opened America to immigrants from all over the globe. Historians say that it was the civil rights movement, in part, that inspired Congress to make such a big change.
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives who was a speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom said it is about time that undocumented immigrants gain civil rights.
‘‘It doesn’t make sense that millions of our people are living in the shadows,’’ said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. ‘‘Bring them out into the light and set them on the path to citizenship.’’
Source: The Boston Globe, "Civil rights and immigration history connected," Deepti Hajela, Aug. 26, 2013