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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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The Fallout of Washington Inaction on Full Display Across the Country

Between legislative victories at the state level, escalating pressure from faith leaders, and an ever growing and increasingly powerful Latino electorate, the broader movement in support of reform continues to grow and solidify its power despite the inactivity on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, the pressure on President Obama to roll back deportations continues to intensify, compelling him to take bold executive action, and soon.

On this week’s office hours, speakers recounted the events from the week and discuss what this means for immigration politics and policy moving forward.

Said Reverend Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and one of the backers of a strongly worded letter sent from faith leaders to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) this week to remind House Republicans of both the political and moral costs of inaction on reform:

After the promise of immigration reform seemed possible the recent inaction in the House is inexplicable. Hispanic evangelicals are deeply frustrated at the lack of leadership and moral urgency around immigration reform. We are deeply troubled that moral action has been sacrificed for political expediency.

On the political front in Colorado this week, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced that he’s entering the Senate race to challenge Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), setting up a newly competitive Senate race where, if Republicans continue to block reform, the issue could play a defining role.  As Craig Hughes, Partner at Hilltop Public Solutions, Campaign Manager for Sen. Michael Bennet’s 2010 Senate Race and Colorado Senior Advisor for both successful Obama campaigns, said:

There is simply no question that Cory Gardner’s position against common sense immigration reform will hurt him in this race, and it could be politically fatal to him.  Latino voters made the difference for Michael Bennet against Ken Buck, and Gardner’s immigration record rivals Buck’s.

In Washington state, leaders from both parties took immigration policy into their own hands to pass a state-level DREAM Act, signed this week by Governor Jay Inslee, making college more accessible for immigrant youth.

“As second year student at the University of Washington Bothell, because of the REAL Hope Act, now I won’t have to ask myself if I will have enough money to pay for my next quarter’s tuition,” said Alejandra Perez, a leader with the Washington DREAM Act Coalition, a United We Dream affiliate. “It means so much to me and to those students who will come after me, as they will get many opportunities that were so hard for me to get.”

Meanwhile the pressure on President Obama to roll back deportations continues to escalate.  In Arizona, a peaceful fast and vigil by families in front of a Phoenix ICE Office is moving forward despite a midnight raid by local police and retaliatory deportation of one member’s son by ICE.

Erika Andiola, founding member of DRM Action Coalition and prominent Arizona DREAMer activist, described the interaction with local police:

It was the first time the Phoenix police really showed their true colors, when they arrested us.  They were very aggressive, they threatened to arrest a woman who was just there taking pictures.  For us at a local level, it was very worrisome.  It was the Arpaio jail that they took us to, there was a man there who was calling all the Latino names, and the first thing they asked you was ‘where were you born?’  And that’s when I realized that it was ICE, inside the jail.  And I saw how they catch undocumented people and how it’s really a machine.  This is the way our community ends up being detained.

We need to stop the bleeding.  There have been two million deportations and that’s way too many for our community.  We need to stop the deportations, we need to be able to live with our families without the fear of being deported.  And after that, we can ask for more.  If we need to put our bodies at risk and hunger strike until President Obama stops the deportations and expands DACA to our parents, then we’ll do that.  We’re ready to do that.

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

To listen to a recording of today’s call, click HERE.