The immigration reform movement is ready for the August recess. Advocates are organizing events, gearing up for town halls and making sure members of Congress feel the heat. The demand? Give us a vote on citizenship. The fact is that a bipartisan majority for immigration reform with an inclusive path to initial legal status and an achievable path to eventual citizenship exists in the House of Representatives right now. The only thing standing between that House majority and citizenship for most of the 11 million is a vote in the House of Representatives.
Unfortunately, the House is going to adjourn for the summer without taking such a vote. A new article in National Journal asserts that inaction on immigration reform is by design. As the reporter Chris Frates notes, “far from a failure of leadership, top House Republicans are casting the inaction as a tactical play designed to boost reform’s chances.” Acknowledging that enforcement-only provisions would have the swiftest passage in the House, the article notes that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) wanted to avoid moving forward on such provisions prior to the August recess to avoid potential Democratic assertions that Republicans were “interested only in legislation that cracks down on immigrants. Or, as one senior House leadership aide put it, ‘all you did was pass bills that on the surface look discriminatory.’ A month of ads smacking Republicans for being anti-immigrant was not a happy prospect.”
Just one problem – House Republicans already approved an immigration measure that cracks down on immigrants. In June, House Republican leadership allowed and Republicans voted nearly unanimously in favor of an amendment sponsored by notorious anti-immigrant extremist Rep. Steve King (R-IA). The measure would defund the Deferred Action program that grants temporary status to Dreamers and would subject them to deportation. As a Business Insider piece last week noted, despite widespread Republican verbal condemnation of Steve King’s remarks equating DREAMers to drug smugglers, “they find it hard to escape the fact that more than 200 members voted for King’s controversial amendment. When one GOP aide was asked if there was regret over the King amendment, the aide only said, ‘Nightmare.’” Only six House Republicans, none in GOP leadership, voted against Steve King’s amendment.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
The simple fact is that Steve King got a vote on his Dreamer deportation amendment, so it’s only fair that we get a vote on a path to citizenship. That’s the only way to for House Republicans to show that Steve King really isn’t in the driver’s seat when it comes to immigration. They can either follow the path to political renewal, or Steve King’s path to oblivion.