SEATTLE -- When Maria Gianni is knocking on voters' doors, she's not bashful about telling people she is in the country illegally. She knows it's a risk to advertise to strangers that
she's here illegally -- but one worth taking in what she sees as a crucial election.
The 42-year-old is one of dozens of volunteers -- many of them illegal immigrants -- canvassing neighborhoods in the Seattle area trying to get naturalized citizens to cast a ballot for candidates like Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who is in a neck-to-neck race with Republican Dino Rossi.
Pramila Jayapal, head of OneAmerica Votes, says the campaign is about empowering immigrants who may not feel like they can contribute to a campaign because they can't vote.
"Immigrants really do matter," Jayapal said. "If we can't vote ourselves, we're gonna knock on doors, or get family members to vote."
So far the illegal immigrants going door-to-door aren't meeting opposition. Craig Keller, an organizer for Respect WA, a group pushing for stricter immigration law in the Washington, said he doesn't mind illegal immigrants volunteering for vote drives, he just wants to make sure mistakes on the voter rolls don't allow them to vote.
"Anybody can go out and wave a sign, but when it comes to who's making the choices, there's no question they need to be citizens," Keller said.
In close elections across the country, the immigrant and minority vote is considered key for candidates, especially Democrats.
Earlier this week in Nevada, a television ad urging Latinos not to vote sparked outcry from Democrats, who called it a dirty trick meant to keep Hispanics home and boost Republican
candidates. Univision and Telemundo -- the nation's two largest Spanish-language networks -- canceled the ad, which the Republican group Latinos for Reform had planned to eventually run in Nevada, Florida, California, Texas and Colorado through the Nov. 2 election.
Seattle is home to a wide array of immigrant communities, from Latinos to east Africans and Asians.
Congress declined this year to consider overhauling the country's immigration law, much to the chagrin of immigrant advocates who had expected Democrats to do so by now.
Still, OneAmerica Votes launched one of the largest get-out-the-vote campaigns in the state on behalf of Democratic candidates. The organization is an offshoot of OneAmerica, one of the state's largest and the most influential immigrant-rights advocacy group.
Through home visits, phone banks and mailings the organization is aiming to reach about 40,000 registered voters in the Seattle area in an attempt to help Democrats gain ground
in key races. Volunteers include other types of people who can't vote, such as legal permanent residents.
About 150 volunteers rolled out in nine cities across Washington this past week, knocking on 3,000 doors.
In Bellevue, a city of nearly 123,000 east of Seattle, Gianni knocked on 25 doors and spoke to 15 people, she said.
One man, a naturalized citizen from the Philippines, said he knew what she was going through after she shared she was in the country illegally.
"There's always a risk," Gianni said in Spanish about her legal status. "But if there's a change, I would feel like I contributed, even in a small part, to a change we all need."
Gianni arrived in the United States on a visa 13 years ago looking for work and stayed. For a while her only son lived here, but has since moved back to Mexico.
"In order for there to be a change to our broken immigration system," she said, "I believe one has to fight."
This is a real touchy situation for a lot of the people. It just so happens that all those people are the P.O.S. left wing democrats that can only win elections through fraud and phony promises from absolute lies!! And the people in this country seem to only have an attention and memory span of 15 minutes!
Nothing was ever done about "The Fast and Furious" People died from that episode of gun running to the cartel that "NOT WE" but Obama and Holder are directly responsible for. All pushed aside and under the rug.
Then the Benghazi massacre that was a preplanned "sanction" headed by Obama and Hillary who lied on camera in front of God and everybody! And what has become of that!? NOTHING AGAIN !
And we're allowing her and Obama to walk freely among us. And there are people out there that are supporting her in the upcoming presidential election! Just makes me want to explode from the frustration of it all.
We have all this under our belts and they are still pushing for immigration reform. Reform what! You mean.. Reform the voting line to let illegals vote for something they know nothing about, from a bribe that they will never receive. That's what these people need to get educated about. About how deceitful and lawless this administration is to do anything they can and will do to guarantee they have the supposed majority to retain their rule. We thought the last election was obvious fraud......this will make it look like it was Sunday School Class!