Pushing the Rock

When Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson decided to turn their penetrating focus to the immigration reform debate in 2001, I'm pretty sure they didn't expect that one film would have blossomed to a... Read More


Marshall Fitz

We were filming a lot of meetings and policy discussions around long conference tables in Washington in 2003. Sometimes the table was at the Chamber of Commerce or Greenberg, Traurig, sometimes at AILA, sometimes in a Senator‘s own conference room. It seemed like all of a sudden in the spring of 2003, Marshal was there at the table.

We noticed he was pretty quiet at first, though he seemed to be a super-smart, no-drama resource when people would ask his opinion. It then became apparent that Marshall was one of AILA's resident legal experts. Later on, when Judy Golub left AILA, he took over as their Director of Advocacy.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association's role in the stories we filmed was a bit of a surprise -- at AILA headquarters in DC, legal experts do wonderful work explaining the law and new policies to immigration attorneys around the country. But even more than most advocates, AILA experts help Hill staffers in a very direct way to write new laws and develop policy solutions that will be workable in real life, as well as in the political arena.

In 2006, Marshall stopped being silent. That was the year he became indispensable to all parties working for a deal on immigration reform. During the Judiciary Committee markups and then the Senate floor fights that year, Marshall headed up a team at AILA that worked around the clock, putting out daily analysis of the flood of amendments which the rest of DC completely relied on. Each of dozens of amendment proposals was analyzed in depth, along with a blow-by-blow of floor action almost as soon as it had happened.

The next year, Marshall himself became a key informal advisor to Senators as well as staffers. He was a constant all through the long weeks of early spring, 2007, as negotiations between Senators and the White House dragged on until a new version of the Grand Bargain finally came together. We‘d often run into him in offices and back rooms in those weeks, and he always knew so much about what was going on and who was thinking what, it seemed he all but attended the closed Members Meetings (the Senators‘ private negotiations) that no one without a Hill Staff badge could get into. If there had been one advocate who had been able to attend those meetings, most of his colleagues would surely have nominated Marshall.

These days Marshall is Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress.

Marshall Fitz appears in Stories 8 The Road to Miami, 10 Brothers and Rivals, and 12 The Senators' Bargain | Last Best Chance
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