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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

 

Rep. Joe Garcia, AFL-CIO and Border Network Talk Discharge Petition, Bipartisan Effort to Fix Border Patrol & Next Steps on Immigration 

With a vacuum left by House GOP leadership, Democrats in the House of Representatives employed a series of procedural and legislative measures to force a vote on H.R. 15 this week, shinning a spotlight on Republican immigration reform “supporters” who have talked about moving reform forward but have done little in the way of action.

As immigration reform champion and lead sponsor of HR 15, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) said on today’s Office Hours call:

I started the discharge petition on Wednesday to bring H.R. 15 to the floor because the American people have waited long enough. If enacted, H.R. 15 will secure our borders, keep families together, and offer hardworking immigrants an earned pathway to citizenship. We have heard too many excuses and too much empty rhetoric from Speaker Boehner.  It’s time for the House to vote.

At the same time, pressure continues to mount on the Obama Administration to reform its enforcement policies and tactics.  And, organizations are ramping up their voter outreach work ahead of the 2014 elections.

Said Maria Elena Durazo, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor executive secretary-treasurer and national Chair of the AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee:

Last year, the labor movement ran a strategic and aggressive campaign to get the US Senate to pass H.R. 15.  We are firmly committed to do the same in the House, whatever it takes. Every day, I hear new stories of families being ripped apart due to inaction of our elected leadership. We oppose an underclass of people continually being exploited as cheap labor in our country. It hurts all of us. We demand action: a House vote and deportation relief now.

In a separate attempt to shine a light on aggressive enforcement policies and tactics, a bipartisan bill was introduced this week to hold the Border Patrol accountable in light of stunning abuses.

“This Border Accountability proposal is unprecedented and historic. It raises the concerns of border and non-border residents about the fast-pace expansion of border enforcement personnel, infrastructure and strategies with to no check and balances, and with complete disregard to the quality of life and the protection of rights of border residents and immigrant families,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights.  “This bipartisan legislation also provides an alternative to the Senate’s wasteful and irresponsible approach to border enforcement, and represents a proactive, border community oriented, complement to current House bi-partisan border initiatives.”

What does all this mean?   Republicans are on the defense on immigration, leaving vulnerable House Members twisting in the wind as voter mobilization efforts get underway.  At the same time, the President is under increasing pressure to reform immigration enforcement policies and tactics.  The pot will continue to boil until someone steps up and takes bold action this year.  The only question at this point is who will win credit and who will be blamed for standing in the way.

Concluded Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

House Republicans have been spoon fed an incredible opportunity to influence policy and share credit for passing immigration reform, but right now they’re on the verge of squandering it.  If they continue to block efforts to move reform to the floor, then the President will have to step in and act boldly – and soon.  For the GOP, this will mean that it’s badly tarnished brand with Latino, API and immigrant voters will be damaged for a generation.  When the electoral tsunami hits them in 2016, Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves.

For a recording of today’s Office Hours, click here.

For recordings and resources from prior Office Hours calls, click here.