In an article titled, “Immigration Overhaul Advocates Make Big August Push,” Holly Yeager of the Washington Post writes:
“An unusual alliance of advocates — including Internet moguls and evangelicals, representatives of big business and labor unions — is working across the country during the August congressional recess in an all-out push for immigration reform. The broad effort, which also includes immigrant rights groups, is using diverse tactics, too. There are roundtables and rallies, sit-ins and voter registration drives, as well as expensive radio and television ads.”
The article comes ahead of today’s pro-immigration reform rally in the Bakersfield, CA district of House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), an event that the Los Angeles Times noted is expected to “draw thousands of activists from 100 cities across the state.” And it comes after Monday’s anti-immigrant rally held in Richmond, VA – an event that featured Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and was sponsored by leading anti-immigrant organizations and allies, yet managed to only turn out some 30 attendees.
So, what are reform opponents saying about the evident disparity in mobilization?
Bob Dane, communications director of the virulently anti-immigrant organization FAIR, said of the pro-reform effort on display, “It’s a staggering, well-financed hard push by the left and the right,” said. According to Yeager, Dane “acknowledged that his side’s efforts are being dwarfed by those of supporters of a sweeping change.”
Roy Beck, head of Numbers USA, Roy Beck, executive director of Arlington, Virginia-based Numbers USA, told Bloomberg at the failed Richmond rally that those who favor legalizing the undocumented have “a heavier lift of changing minds” during the congressional recess, while anti-immigration groups like his must simply “hold the line.” He has changed his tune considerably in just two weeks. In an August 1st story by Molly Ball of The Atlantic, Beck said: “No other August has been this critical.” Credited with bringing down immigration reform in 2007 with a barrage of grassroots anger, he confidently predicted to Ball that anti-immigrant voices throughout the nation would be the story of congressional recess.
These echo comments made by in late May by Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R), who told CNN: “I’ve never seen a more calculated, cold-blooded p.r. campaign managed to advance a piece of legislation than this one. The political consultants and pollsters and people (managing the bill) … anticipated everything that was going to occur … They planned on careful attacks to neutralize critics.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
We appreciate that our opponents recognize they are being outgunned and outmatched, but we question their attempts to move the goal posts on what constitutes success. For all their talk of mobilizing opposition to reform in the summer, to date it has been the pro-reform forces who have shown up big time this August. We will continue to hold events, make phone calls, register voters, run ads, hold round tables, organize visits and build power for reform with a path to citizenship. House leaders should take note: we won’t stop until we get our vote on citizenship.
Here’s what else is happening in the August recess:
- Yesterday Senator John McCain (R-AZ) held a town hall in Tucson, AZ. In a state that has been the wellspring of nativism in recent years, a state led by the likes of Governor Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Senator McCain was repeatedly thanked for his leadership on immigration reform and his mentions of immigration reform and citizenship were met with loud applause. Also yesterday, Senator McCain spoke at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and, according to Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic, called upon Arizona’s Congressional delegation to support immigration reform and citizenship and to demonstrate to the nation that Arizona has moved past the controversies incited by its passage of the “show me your papers” SB 1070 law. Said McCain, “We need to get this issue done, and behind us…And especially, I might say, in the state of Arizona, which has faced so much controversy and so much publicity, that it would be great if we saw the entire Arizona delegation support this comprehensive immigration reform.”
- Recent on-the-ground successes of the pro-reform movement in the past two weeks have included strong showings and heavy pressure in the districts of Aaron Schock (R-IL), David Valladao (R-CA), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Corey Gardner (R-CO), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Michael Grimm (R-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Dave Reichert (R-WA) and others (see here for the growing list of Republican House Members who have voiced their support for citizenship).