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We can’t count the number of times this question of whether immigration reform can pass has been asked. Last week, at our last “Office Hours” of the year, a number of advocates made the case about the unrelenting pressure from our movement, which only continues to grow. Frank Sharry said, “The immigration movement has been growing in strength, breadth and depth all year. We’re still very much alive, we’re still fighting and we’re not going to give up until we get the legislative and administrative breakthroughs we’re pushing for.” So, no surprise, our answer is yes — a very resounding yes.
And, reading the article from Rebecca Kaplan at CBS News, it’s pretty clear that real reform can move in the House in 2014:
Of the many issues left unfinished by Congress when they left town for the holiday break, an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws is one that is certainly not going away.
2013 saw the first major attempt at a comprehensive immigration reform bill since 2006-2007, when it was a top priority for President George W. Bush. Anger from the right and the left helped kill several pieces of legislation, shelving the issue for several years.
After the 2012 presidential election, when Republican nominee Mitt Romney recorded a dismal 27 percent to President Obama’s 71 percent among Hispanic voters, there was widespread speculation – bolstered by an endorsement for comprehensive immigration reform from the Republican National Committee – that 2013 was the year with the best hope at tackling a contentious issue.
That didn’t happen.
Yes, we’ve passed a bill with a path to citizenship in the Senate. Since that happened, the pressure from our movement continues to grow:
The pressure that built toward the end of the year will continue into 2014, the activists have promised, making it a difficult issue for either the president or House Republicans to ignore. And increasingly, it seems like continued deportations will be at the heart of advocates grievances.
“As we enter the holiday season, there will be a lot of heavy hearts knowing that 1,100 people are being deported every day and that families are being torn apart,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy group. “We won’t stop until the deportations stop.”
Greisa Martinez, an organizer with United We Dream, a youth-led immigrant advocacy group, reflected on her group’s demonstration at a detention center in Arizona that stopped a bus trying to deport people. “This is the kind of escalation and action that both the Obama administration and Congress can expect to see more of in 2014 if they don’t step up and provide relief and reform to our communities,” he said.
Exactly. The power of our movement is something a lot of pundits in DC don’t understand. They watch the day-to-day machinations of the politicos while we expand and grow and build our strength. And, we’re looking at upcoming elections in 2014 – and 2016:
Advocates are certainly counting on the impending election to bolster their own pressure on Washington to act on the issue. Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said that if lawmakers don’t address the issue in 2014, “voters are ready to remind them at the ballot box they are replaceable.”
In a July poll, Latino Decisions, a group that studies Latino voting trends, found that among Latino voters who voted in the 2010 midterm elections, 39 percent of respondents said that they would be more likely to support Republican congressional candidates in the next election if the GOP took a leadership role in passing an immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to citizenship. In a separate question, 50 percent said that they would be more likely to support Republican congressional candidates who supported immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship even if they disagreed with Republicans on other issues like health care and taxes.
It’s up to John Boehner. Keep in mind that the only immigration bill that Boehner allowed on the House floor for a vote was Steve King’s legislation to defund DACA and deport DREAMers – and that passed in John Boehner’s House :
The future of immigration policy in the House rests largely in the hands of the leadership, and especially Boehner. He has expressed a commitment to overhauling the nation’s laws all year as long as it is done on the House’s terms, but has also failed so far to put a single bill on the floor. Still, the issue is not going away and Boehner announced earlier this month that he hired Rebecca Tallent, a former staffer for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was actively involved in the 2006-2007 reform efforts.
Despite his protestations he will never work with the Senate on the bill they passed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told The Hill newspaper that Boehner will ultimately face too much pressure from his members who could be at risk if the House doesn’t act on immigration.
“He’ll have a lot of pressure from his members now that the election is getting closer,” Reid said. “Some of his members are in very marginal districts, where they need to do something on immigration.”
They do need to do something on immigration. And, we’re going to make sure they do.