Lewis: Immigration reform top civil rights issue

Lauren Schneiderman

Immigration reform is one of the most pressing civil rights issues of the modern era, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said on Wednesday.

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Lewis, a civil rights icon and the only surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, said Congress needs to pass reform — and that the American public must pressure it to do so.

"The most pressing need for young people and for older Americans, for all of us, is to move with all deliberate speed to create a truly multicultural, multiracial democratic society. It doesn't make sense ... to have millions and millions of people living in the shadows. We have to pass comprehensive immigration reform," he said Wednesday at a conference at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act

Lewis also warned about attacks on voting rights, and complained about Congress's dysfunction.

"The Congress must get its own act together. I don't want to be partisan, you know, but we need another election or two. People need to register, and they need to vote, they need to vote," he said. "There are still voices in America who want to take it back to 1965 ... and we cannot allow that to happen."