The consistent daily pressure and moral commitment of the immigration reform movement stands in stark contrast to the inaction and avoidance of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other Republican leaders in the House. Not only are House leaders refusing to allow a vote on the bipartisan HR 15 bill—despite the fact that the votes exist to pass it today—but they have also failed to introduce any comparable legislation of their own. In fact, the only floor action on immigration in the lower chamber this year has been on tactics pulled straight from the Steve King/Joe Arpaio playbook.
Among the developments showing our movement’s commitment – and the contrast with Republican leaders – include:
- National Mall Immigration Fasters Inspire New Participants & Generate Nationwide Solidarity Fasts: After 22 days of a water-only fast on the National Mall, faith, labor, and civic fasters passed the baton to a new contingent of leaders yesterday. As the Associated Press recapped, “Three immigrant advocates on a hunger strike to pressure lawmakers to change the country’s immigration system ended their three-week fast Tuesday on the National Mall, while a new group of fasters including U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III took their place. About half a dozen Congress members, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were there as the fasters left the tent Tuesday. Minnesota Democratic U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum began one-day solidarity fasts with the activists.” The fasters issued a joint statement that noted, “As we fasted, the American people responded with overwhelming support and solidarity…Thousands chose to fast and pray, reigniting the power of the immigration reform movement and strengthening our spirits and determination. However, Speaker Boehner is not listening. He has failed to act and move forward with immigration reform legislation in the House.” In addition to the new fasters picking up the baton on the National Mall, solidarity fasts are also now occurring throughout the nation – see here for more information on solidarity fasts and support.
- Erika Andiola Fights for Her Mother & Other Families Facing Separation: Erika, a prominent DREAM activist from Arizona, appeared on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” last night to explain why she is resigning her staff position in the office of Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) – to fight full-time against the potential deportation of her mother. Erika’s story, one shared by thousands of other families, is a reminder of why we need immigration reform in Congress and why we need President Obama to stop deporting people who would qualify for legal status under pending legislation he supports As Erika said, “The politically-charged immigration debate has always been personal for me, and, in many ways, my life symbolizes the most controversial flashpoints of the debate: I came across the desert from Mexico as a child; I have lost members of my community and even my own family to deportations and controversial laws like SB1070 in my hometown of Mesa. I was awarded deferred action for childhood arrivals status, but then had Gov. Jan Brewer take away my right to a driver’s license with an executive order … Once again, I am facing the most painful aspect of the record-setting deportations of the Obama administration: family separation by deportation.”
- Creative Movement Pressure Unrelenting on Republican House Leaders Who are “Ducking” Reform. During yesterday’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the West Lawn of the Capitol, a group of immigrant children and their families sang to Speaker John Boehner and called him out on his inaction on immigration reform. This is just the latest example of creative and unrelenting pressure on House Republican leaders from the pro-reform movement. Earlier this week, immigrants and advocates journeyed to Speaker Boehner’s office on the Hill to deliver an invitation asking him to meet with the fasters. Despite a placard saying “Welcome, come on in”, Boehner’s staff locked the door on the advocates coming to speak with him. This is at least the third time in recent days that Boehner’s office staff barricaded itself in the office, rather than speak to immigrants and advocates.
On the other side of the country yesterday, advocates with UFW tried to visit the Bakersfield, CA office of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) – even bringing giant rubber duckies to emphasize the fact that the Congressman has been ducking his constituents – and found that his doors were locked. See here for the visuals of the creative action. Last month, Rep. McCarthy was forced to meet with a group of immigrant women at 11 o’clock at night, after 13 women conducted an act of civil disobedience at his office and refused to leave.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Not only are House Republican leaders refusing to do their jobs on immigration, but they are attempting to avoid members of our movement who are making direct appeals to their heads and their hearts. But what Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy need to realize is that our movement is not going away. We’re fighting for our families, and we’re going to keep the heat on them until they do the right thing and work with Democrats to pass broad immigration reform.