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Momentum and Power: Immigration Reform Movement Generates Some August Heat

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House Republicans are Facing Constituent Pressure at Home

As week one of the August recess comes to an end, the pro-reform movement is making our call for immigration reform with citizenship heard loud and clear.  And as a new round of clips shows, Republicans are starting to feel the August heat.

Jordan Fabian of ABC/Univision writes:

Is Republican opposition to a pathway to citizenship melting away in the August heat?  With Congress on a five-week recess, members are back in their home districts.  And during the past few days, a handful of lawmakers added their names to the list of Republicans willing to support immigration reform, which includes a path to citizenship.  These statements of support from Congressional members come as pro-immigration reform groups are laying on the pressure, with dozens of petition drives and rallies in their home districts.  Advocates caution that not every member’s statement means that they back a path to full citizenship.  But they are cautiously optimistic that support for immigration reform is growing among House Republicans.

Here’s why we’re optimistic about the prospects for immigration reform in August recess:

  • BREAKING GOOD:  In Washington state, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) took on a conservative talk radio host about the undocumented, saying, “We’ve gotta find a way to build a solution around the 12 million people that are here… I want to get to the point where they have to pay a fine, there are some penalties they have to go through, there are some steps they have to go through.  I want to hold them accountable, and then they get citizenship.”  Reichert adds his name to the growing list of 22 Republicans that have publicly voiced support for a pathway to citizenship. As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post notes, “Interviews such as this one from Reichert, and the other quotes we’re seeing, raise the possibility that some Republicans are trying to see if there is a way politically for them to get to supporting legalization and citizenship” and adds, “the key thing to watch for is whether House Republicans are actually grappling with the issue. Reichert appears to do that here.”
  • FULL HOUSE:  According to a recap of an interview with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) in the Washington Post: “The House has more than enough GOP votes — around 40 or 50 — to pass comprehensive immigration reform if it were brought to a vote.  But Gutierrez said Republicans who support the idea are staying deliberately quiet to avoid a backlash from conservative activists.  ‘Some of them I’ve spoken to, and they say, ‘Love to do the activity with you, I want to be able to vote for it, I really don’t need to draw attention to myself at this point,’ but we can count on it,’ Gutierrez said.”  As the piece goes on to highlight, there’s already an existing bipartisan majority of House Members that support reform with citizenship.  “The reason the Senate-passed immigration bill hasn’t come to a vote in the House is because it doesn’t satisfy the so-called Hastert Rule – the practice of not bringing a bill to a vote unless a majority of the majority party’s members support it…If Boehner didn’t enforce the Hastert Rule — something he has sworn he will do — and all 201 House Democrats backed an immigration bill, the bill would need 17 Republicans to pass. Gutierrez said he’s got the support of at least 195 House Democrats, which would mean the effort needs 23 Republicans to pass, minus the Hastert Rule.”
  • IT’S GETTING HOT OUT THERE:  The pro-reform movement is making sure their presence is felt in Republican districts coast to coast.  BusinesslaborfaithLatino communities and more are pressuring Republicans to deal with the question of how to address the 11 million.  Next week, thousands will gather in California to rally in House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) district.  Per a Politico recap, “Cars will caravan along the roughly 115 miles from Los Angeles to Bakersfield early Wednesday morning, ahead of a midday demonstration outside McCarthy’s office, pressing the No. 3 GOP leader for a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes a pathway.  Organizers say hundreds of cars are making the journey.”  Meanwhile, in Colorado, per the Denver Post, “Activists are seizing the next four weeks that members of Congress are home to mount public support for their top priorities from Obamacare to climate change and, perhaps most prominently, immigration reform…’We definitely haven’t gotten any rest, and we won’t until we get a vote on immigration reform,’ said Celia Reyes-Martinez, state director of Mi Familia Vota, an organization canvassing the state to push Republican lawmakers on immigration reform.”
  • IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID:  The business community is proving they’re all in on immigration this week.  According to a Politico recap, “The arm of the Mark Zuckerberg-backed immigration reform group that focuses on conservatives is going on air in Milwaukee with a pro-reform spot defending Rep. Paul Ryan, POLITICO has learned.  Americans for a Conservative Direction bought roughly $350,000 worth of TV time targeted toward Ryan’s district, a source tracking the air wars said.  That’s almost double what the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform is spending on 30-second spots accusing Ryan of backing ‘amnesty.’” These new ads fall in conjunction with a separate FWD.us August ad campaign targeting Republican House Members. And earlier this week, in his first public appearance speaking on a political issue, renowned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reaffirmed his strong commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, voicing his support for citizenship for all the 11 million.

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

The immigration reform movement is bringing extra heat to an already sweltering August.  Advocates left, right and center want to know: given the growing evidence that a bipartisan majority exists today in favor of broad immigration reform, are House Republicans going to allow this majority to express its will, or are they going to hide behind procedural excuses to block it?  How they decide will determine the fate of millions of people.  How they decide will determine the fate of the Republican Party, too.