Republicans this year gave Steve King a vote to deport DREAMers, locked pro-reform advocates out of their offices and refused to engage with them, and stalled on immigration reform even though they had the time and have the votes to pass legislation. Meanwhile, House Democrats have introduced their version of the Senate immigration bill, which has been co-sponsored by more than 190 Democrats and a handful of Republicans.
Democrats have stepped up on immigration reform more than ever. Sen. Harry Reid, long a champion of immigration reform and the DREAM Act, took time to meet with advocates yesterday–a dramatic contrast to the locked doors of Speaker Boehner and GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy. Yesterday, the Fast 4 Families ended with a press conference and rally on Capitol Hill led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, joined by fasters, advocates and members of the Democratic Caucus. During the fast, a number of Democrats–and a few Republicans–took the time to visit the tent. When Eliseo Medina and the core fasters ended their 22-day hunger strike, the baton was picked up by a string of House Democrats, and others like Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Newark mayor Cory Booker (also a D). One of this week’s solidarity fasters is even Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor who once called immigration reform “the third rail of American politics.” And now he will go 24 hours without food in support of the issue.
What the immigrant and Latino communities really need from Democrats, of course, is a change in Obama’s over-harsh deportation policies, and pressure on the President to help make that happen. Republicans are doing no favors for themselves with Latino voters by refusing to act on immigration reform–but there’s much more that Democrats can do to mobilize the community, as well.