Immigrant-rights blocs push voter sign-ups

Trying to turn street protests into political power, immigrants rights groups say they are gearing up for a campaign to register 1 million new voters this spring and summer.

The groups, working together as the We Are America Alliance, plan a string of events around the country starting next week, including voter registration drives, citizenship workshops and street rallies.

Organizers also plan to lobby local, state and federal elected officials on immigration issues through phone calls, petitions and faxes. New York's action day will be May 20. A Wednesday news conference was scheduled to outline the local program.

"We need to take the energy and the passion of immigrants and their allies and hold elected officials accountable," said Chris Wood, campaign manager for New American Opportunity Campaign, a leading organizer.

Organizers also are aiming to get hundreds of thousands of people to rally for immigrants rights around the country over Labor Day weekend.

The alliance's members, such as the New York Immigration Coalition and the National Capital Immigration Coalition, have been working for years to reform immigration laws, said Germonique Jones of the Center for Community Change. Most did not support the May 1 work and school boycott and prefer more moderate measures to push for change.

The alliance is being announced this week in cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C.

The immigrant rights movement has grown enormously in recent months, sparked in part by a proposed federal measure that would make it a felony to be in the country illegally.

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