White House Urges You to Channel Your Inner Immigrant

Susan Jones | May 8, 2013 | 12:10pm EDT
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Alma Banuelos, left, with Emilia Hernandez shout slogans during a rally in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, May 1, 2013. In celebration of May Day thousands have gathered for an immigration reform rally in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

(CNSNews.com) - Calling all immigrants -- and according to the Obama administration, that means most of us.

No matter how long your relatives have been in this country, they probably came from somewhere else, the White House says in a message urging Americans to share the story of how we all got here.

"Nearly everyone in America has an immigration story to share. Tell us yours," says a White House Web page set up to collect the stories.

Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, says the story-sharing is intended to boost the national debate "about how we can build a fair and effective immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants."

The goal is to make sure that "genuine, personal perspectives" are part of the national debate:

"When Americans from all over the country -- each with different backgrounds, each from different circumstances -- all speak out with the same voice, it's powerful in a way that's hard to ignore. We've seen it again and again, in debate after debate," Muñoz said on Wednesday.

"So share your American stories with us, and we'll put them to use. We'll publish them on the White House website. We'll share them on Facebook and Twitter. We'll do everything we can to make sure they're part of the debate around immigration reform."

To kick things off, one of the president's senior advisers is sharing his story about being a first-generation (legal) immigrant from Portugal.

The apparent effort to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration comes one day before the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to take up a "bipartisan"  immigration bill.

Hundreds of amendments have been offered, raising questions about whether the legislation -- offering eventual citizenship to millions who came here illegally -- will survive in its current form.

According to the Associated Press, an amendment introduced by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) would limit the number of immigrants gaining legal status under the bill and require control of the border before anyone can receive legal standing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would tighten criteria for legalization and require a new electronic employment verification system to be implemented more than twice as fast as the bill contemplates. (The AP notes that Grassley, the committee's top Republican, filed the most amendments -- 77.)

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has introduced a measure to extend immigration rights to the foreign partners of American homosexuals.

All four Republican members of the Gang of Eight, which wrote the bill, have said such a provision could kill the legislation.

(The Associated Press provided some of the information used in this report.)

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