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SOTU Preview, GOP Principles & How the Pro-Reform Movement is Gearing Up for a Legislative Victory in 2014
Next week will see a couple of key moments in the 2014 immigration debate. The President will deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, and he is expected to give the House GOP plenty of running room to do their thing on immigration while continuing to call for action. Later in the week, the House GOP will discuss immigration at their issues retreat, and confront an important choice: do they move the ball forward and engage in a real legislative process that leads to a bipartisan breakthrough this year? Or do they continue to let the Steve King caucus run the show?
Thus far, the only immigration policy that has received a full vote in the House of Representatives since the 2012 election was an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to defund the DACA program and subject DREAMers to deportation. But with the pro-reform movement re-invigorated, and the American people firmly behind citizenship for aspiring Americans, the ball is in House Republicans’ court.
That was the crux of the discussion on today’s “Office Hours” call where movement leaders and activists shared their thoughts and perspectives on what’s next in the immigration debate and explained how the pro-reform movement is gearing up for a legislative victory in 2014.
Over the next several months, Members of Congress will hardly be able to step a pinky toe outside of Washington without hearing from pro-reform activists. On Monday, leaders from last year’s “Fast for Families” will officially re-launch their effort from 2013 and announce new plans to visit more than 100 key Congressional districts across the country.
“We are not going to let up on our campaign for one minute,” said Eliseo Medina, Former International Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU, inspired many with his leadership of “Fast for Families” on the National Mall this past fall. “We will be traveling across the country and taking our cause to the constituencies of key Members of Congress. The goal is to call to action, to speak to key Members of Congress and to remind them that the immigration status quo is unacceptable. We’re going to keep working, calling, marching, fasting and praying until a fair and just immigration reform is the law of the land. You can count on that.”
Ahead of the “Fast for Families” re-launch, activists in California have already ramped up their efforts targeting House Leadership. Led by United Farm Workers, dozens of activists in Bakersfield, CA gathered to protest a fundraiser being held in House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) home district.
“Last Tuesday, during a TV interview, Congressman McCarthy said for the first time that he supports legalization for undocumented immigrants. While he fell short of embracing a pathway to citizenship, this is a change for a man who closed the doors on us several times last year,” said United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez. “We are making our voices heard and the House Republican leadership is realizing that they cannot longer ignore this issue. We won’t let them ignore it. The UFW and the farm worker movement is determined to continue with our campaign to highlight the urgent need for immigration reform with a path to citizenship even if that makes some lawmakers uncomfortable.”
In addition to the grassroots effort, other groups ramping up efforts to remind Republicans of the important politics surrounding immigration reform. This week, Mi Familia Vota and the National Council of La Raza launched a new voter registration effort to register a quarter of a million Latino voters by the midterm elections.
“Elected officials need to pay attention to our issues and consistently engage Latinos. How they react to issues like immigration reform will be remembered in November” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, Mi Familia Vota’s California State Director. “Our voter registration efforts are starting early this year and our efforts to continue to put pressure on members of Congress will not seize because it is not enough to wait until six weeks before an election to pay lip service to Latino voters. We will do our job and register and vote this Election. So we suggest to members of Congress that they do their jobs if they want to keep them.”
Added Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Advocates for immigration have been really clear: we want an inclusive path to legal status for those who are undocumented and an achievable path to citizenship for those who are legalized. There are different ways for House Republicans to meet these standards, but we won’t know if their proposal does so until we see the details. Let’s hope they get it right.