Around 200 leaders from PICO and United We Dream gathered together in Washington, D.C., last week for a bootcamp to train leaders on PICO’s Campaign for Citizenship. The purpose of the training was to equip the leaders with more tools so that they could train others to continue building up their power on the path to seeking citizenship legislation. Fr. Nieto, St Antony’s pastor, Carmen Rivera and William Cordova were the leaders who represented OCO at the training.

During the trip we did a visit to the House of Representatives. We met with a legislative aide to Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office. After the meeting, we got the impression that Congresswoman Lee is very committed and in support of legislation that includes citizenship for the country’s 11 million aspiring Americans.

We also heard that one of her concerns is the language some of her colleagues in the Senate are using about border enforcement. We were told that she is talking to her colleagues in the House to make sure they will support the legislation when it gets introduced. If the Senate doesn’t introduce the legislation before the State of the Union address, the House will do it. According to the information we got, the House has their own “group of eight” working on legislation in case the Senate doesn’t follow through on their effort.

During the bootcamp, we were asked to bring with us our community’s concerns about the proposed citizenship legislation. We shared Oakland residents’ concerns around E-Verify, border enforcement, “waiting in the back of the line” and what the government might consider as crime levels that could disqualify people from becoming candidates for the aspiring Americans legislation. We were also asked to bring other concerns we might think are important for Congresswoman Lee to voice on our behalf.

We will hear from Congresswoman Lee’s office in the next two weeks about a date for a public event with us here in Oakland. That should happen after legislation gets introduced.