This past weekend offered a preview of coming battles over immigration executive action. However, while Republicans may be gearing up to fight President Obama, this weekend should remind observers that the GOP’s true battles will be against Latino and immigrant families. Those directly affected by executive action, as well as the much larger contingent of allied voters, are energized and ready to defend executive action against any Republican attempts to block or overturn this step forward for their lives, families, and communities.
In an article titled, “Undocumented Immigrants Line Up for Door Opened by Obama,” Julia Preston of the New York Times captures the scene at a workshop at the Los Angeles Convention Center designed to guide immigrant families through the eligibility and application process of executive action:
The crowd, waiting in a long snaking line to check in, was drawn by an information session organized by advocacy groups offering people initial assessments to see if they meet the requirements to apply to stay in the country and work. The day became a kind of coming-out party for about 5,000 unauthorized immigrants, the largest gathering in the country of people who might qualify for temporary protection since the president’s announcement last month.
This debate is a personal one for millions of Latino and immigrant voters throughout the nation – 58% of Latino voters reported knowing an undocumented immigrant in Latino Decisions’ 2014 election eve poll. And as Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) told Preston of the long-term political implications, “All those children are going to be voters, and those voters are going to remember who stood with their dad and their mom.” See here and here for images that help capture the scene of energy and excitement in Los Angeles over the weekend – just one of numerous cities holding similar workshops.
Meanwhile, drama in the U.S. Senate over the weekend previews important dynamics to watch over immigration policy and politics. The Senate as a whole roundly rejected Senator Ted Cruz’s “constitutional point of order” related to the recent executive actions on immigration, voting against Cruz by a 74-22 margin.
However, as Bloomberg points out, “Of the 23 Republican senators up for re-election in 2016, 16 voted for Cruz’s parliamentary objection, known as a point of order, against what he called Obama’s ‘amnesty.’ Two of them, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, are — like Cruz — considering presidential bids.” Senator Paul also introduced separate legislation, a “companion bill” to Rep. Ted Yoho’s House bill, designed to prevent the executive action on immigration from taking effect. The Yoho/Paul bills seek to place nearly all 11 million undocumented immigrants in America at risk of deportation once again.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
It’s now clear that Ted Cruz is intent on pulling the Republican Party into the undertow of toxic, anti-immigrant politics. This could prove disastrous for the GOP’s chances of retaking the White House and the careers of two dozen Senate Republicans in 2016. President Obama will not be on the ballot next election, but two dozen Republican Senators will be, including those in Latino-heavy states such as Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. As Latino and immigrant voters clamor to embrace and defend this step forward for their community, Republicans’ votes will be a litmus test for the Latino community and a simple test of whether the GOP endorses measures to rip immigrant families apart.