Rally Shines Light on Need to Control Immigration
It was by far the biggest and most successful demonstration of the American publicís desire for comprehensive immigration enforcement. Hold Their Feet to the Fire, a joint effort by FAIR and San Diego radio talk show personality Roger Hedgecock, enlisted the combined efforts of the media and citizen involvement to drive home the need for Congress and the Bush Administration to enact an immigration enforcement plan that does not reward illegal aliens with amnesty, or undercut American workers with millions of low-wage guest workers.
Hold Their Feet to the Fire, which ran from April 22 to 25, included 37 radio talk shows, hundreds of citizen lobbyists who came to Washington and visited every office on Capitol Hill, and many thousands of people all across the United States who called, emailed and wrote to their representatives demanding that the government act to protect our borders and enforce our nationís immigration laws. The media footprint of Hold Their Feet to the Fire turned out to be significantly larger than the 37 radio who originated their broadcasts from the second floor of the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. The event received national media coverage from all three cable news networks, CNN, Fox and MSNBC, as well as by leading newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Los Angeles Times, and many others.
For three days, from 5:00 am until midnight, three ballrooms in the Phoenix Park Hotel served as the headquarters of the biggest immigration reform event in history. With the expert technical services of Silver Lake Audio of Rockville Center, New York, 13 makeshift broadcast stations served as the home away from home for the 37 talk show hosts whose programs reached all across the country. As talk shows broadcast back to their home markets, a procession of members of the House of Representatives and Senate turned up to discuss immigration policy on the air. The dozens of members of Congress, including two declared presidential candidates Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who spent countless hours at the Phoenix Park, were coordinated by Kurt Bardella, press secretary to Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) who chairs the congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.
In addition to members of Congress, FAIR arranged for other elected officials, including Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Mayor Lou Barletta, also traveled to Washington to participate in Hold Their Feet to the Fire. As well as politicians, FAIR also lined up an impressive list of other immigration policy experts, such as Robert Rector or the Heritage Foundation, to appear on the radio talk shows. Guests often moved from one broadcast table to another, one minute speaking to listeners in San Diego, and five minutes later filling the airwaves in Boston, or Nashville, or some other media market.
lobbyists and activists also had their opportunities to convey the
excitement and energy of the Hold Their Feet to the Fire event. Activists
returning from trips to Capitol Hill were frequently grabbed by the
broadcasters on radio row to report to listeners back home about their
experiences while visiting congressional offices. Whether members of
Congress and their staffs greeted immigration reform activists receptively
or not was immediately known to thousands of that memberís constituents
back in their districts. Adding to the energy of Hold Their Feet to the
Fire was the fact that instead of the normal sterile radio environment,
where hosts carry out their business in sound-proof studios, radio row was
filled with the buzz of activists milling around the three ballrooms that
served as the nerve center of the event.