Big immigration march in Washington

By Clement Tan and Don Lee

Reporting from Washington — Determined to push a major overhaul of the immigration system to the top of the nation’s political agenda, tens of thousands of people rallied Sunday on the National Mall, challenging Congress to fix laws that they say separate families and hurt the country’s economic and social vitality.

Organizers and supporters of the “March for America” campaign — who demonstrated as House members cast a historic vote on healthcare — want to make an immigration overhaul the next big undertaking in Washington.

“The reality is that immigrants keep jobs in America, they help businesses move forward,” said Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, one of hundreds of community, labor and faith-based groups nationwide that joined the march.

The organizing group, Reform Immigration for America, said Sunday’s rally was larger than the massive Washington demonstration in April 2006, when thousands protested around the country over immigrant rights and enforcement practices. On Sunday, the crowd stretched nearly five blocks on the mall.

Although the event had a festive, almost carnival-like feel to it — young and old in T-shirts walking amid white tents and balloons while drummers and musicians played — many participants came bottled up with frustration or sorrow.

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Campaign finance legislation faces tricky issue of foreign corporations

Reporting from Washington – Proposed legislation to block foreign companies from contributing money to U.S. elections could end up affecting well-known companies such as Chrysler, Anheuser-Busch and Citgo, according to legal experts and company representatives.

The legislation is a reaction from key House and Senate Democrats to a Supreme Court decision in January that struck down a portion of the nation’s campaign funding laws, allowing corporations to freely contribute to political campaigns.

The high court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission seemed to open the way for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations to also contribute to campaigns.

The legislators say they are now considering a broad definition of foreign corporations — companies that are more than 20% owned by non-American entities. That could end up banning thousands of corporations from contributing to political activities.

Chrysler would be affected because the Italian automaker Fiat has a 35% stake. The oil company Citgo Petroleum Corp. was started by an American oilman but has been wholly owned by the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company since 1990. St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, the company that brews Budweiser, was bought by Belgian brewing giant InBev for $54.8 billion in 2008.

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