To him,the fight is personal. Campos,23,was born in El Salvador and moved to the United States when he was 12. Over his years in the U.S.,Campos has had to deal with issues that come along with being undocumented,even fighting cancer at 18 without health insurance.
Campos is one of 50 to 80 volunteers at CASA de Maryland,a non-profit that advocates for immigrant rights. They go door-to-door almost every day asking residents to commit to attending an April 10 rally at the Capitol to push for comprehensive immigration reform.
His fight for a better quality of life didn’t end when he went into remission almost five years ago. And having doors slammed in his face or being called names does not deter him from fighting for citizenship.
Organizers and volunteers divide into groups and plan which neighborhoods of Silver Spring,a Washington suburb,they will canvas to make sure someone knocks on every door before April 10.
“I know my community is going to respond and that we’ll show that we’re strong,” Campos said. “We’re just asking for a chance,and now is the time.”
CASA members kept notes on every person they approached,whether the person agreed or declined to participate,or didn’t answer the door,in which case they left fliers. Some of the volunteers who speak limited English ran into people they couldn’t communicate with.
On a recent day of canvasing,Campos knocked on the door of Dadie Loh,a U.S. citizen who immigrated from the Ivory Coast. Loh is a French teacher in Silver Spring and expressed interest in the rally but said he couldn’t attend because he is scheduled to work.
“This country is an immigrant country,” Loh said. “If people don’t talk about this issue then they are missing out. Everybody knows there has got to be reform.”
CASA officials said 500,000 people are expected to attend the rally from across the country,and CASA’s goal is to have 100,000 people attend from the Washington area.
Ashwini Jaisingh,lead organizer at CASA,said a rally is necessary to put a human face on immigration reform.
“Considering the window we have and the need to continue to pressure members of Congress to pass something to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants … we really want to show how powerful we are as a community and the best way we can do that is through our numbers,” she said.
Jaisingh,a U.S. citizen whose parents immigrated from India,said each day the group covers three areas of Silver Spring,a community with a 36.2 percent foreign-born population,according to the Census Bureau. Maryland has a 13.5 percent foreign born population.
Volunteers typically knock on 100 doors in a day,and 30 to 50 people from that group say they plan to join the rally,Jaisingh said.
Rommel Sandino,a CASA volunteer and the main canvasing organizer,said the effort is in synch with the group’s grassroots background.
Sandino said that,after two weeks of canvasing,6,000 people have promised to attend the rally.
“This reflects the work we’ve been putting these past few days in community outreach,” he said. “Hopefully,we can keep that level. So far,there has been a very positive response from the community,and we can’t do this without a community effort.”
Reach reporter Jasmine Aguilera at [email protected] or 202-326-9866. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.