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Principles Are Important, But Our Movement is Waiting for Actual Legislation

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Today, the House GOP caucus is meeting, and is expected to release their principles on immigration reform.  All this week, commentators have been discussing the principles’ expected support for immigration reform with legalization rather than citizenship, and wondering if such a move would be enough for advocates.  Here’s what our Executive Director here at America’s Voice, Frank Sharry, had to say in a Washington Post interview:

I could take those [GOP] concepts and develop them in a way that met our standards . . .and there’s also a way of detailing them in a way very few legal immigrants would have a shot at citizenship.  It’s hard to negotiate with principles, and we’re not going to negotiate with ourselves. Let’s wait and see what they come up with and whether they are within shouting distance of what we want.

In other words, GOP: where’s the bill?

To recap where we are in the immigration reform debate, here’s what’s happened in our campaign over the last year:

  1. Last June, the Senate passed its immigration bill, S. 744, in a 68-32 landmark bipartisan vote.
  2. Since then, pressure from advocates has turned out more than 218 supporters of citizenship in the House — including 29 Republicans.  That’s more than enough to pass immigration reform.
  3. Last October, House Democrats introduced an immigration bill in the House — HR 15 — which now also has Republican cosponsors.
  4. Today, the House GOP is introducing its own immigration “principles.”

The principles are a good first step, but Republicans need to do much more.  As we illustrated at ImmigrationPower.com, the House GOP is defending at least 45 seats this year where the Latino vote will have a significant impact.  And 2016 is just around the corner, and Republicans will need to figure out immigration before then, as John Cornyn said.  And step one is legislation.