Profiled on the front page of today’s Washington Post print edition is Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), And, he’s getting that kind of attention for one reason: immigration:
This is an immigration crossroads, where demographics and ideology collide, and because of this, Heck may be one of the few Republicans with a responsibility to try to persuade his GOP colleagues to take action on the issue.
He said that those Republicans who oppose a House debate “have to understand that for those of us who represent districts that have a large foreign population, this is not a Mexican issue, this is not a Hispanic issue. This is an issue about a broken legal immigration system. They’ve got to understand that we’ve got to address this broken immigration system or, quite honestly, we maintain the status quo and we continue to see a growing illegal population.”
And, Heck has been hearing from his constituents, of course. Also, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was instrumental in the effort to pass the comprehensive Senate bill, is fellow Nevadan who lives in Heck’s district. Earlier this week, Reid participated in a pro-reform rally in Las Vegas with Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
This passage from the Post article shows the breadth of support for reform — from Chamber of Commerce types to the DREAMers:
Then there’s Otto Merida, who leads the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce and is a registered Republican. He meets regularly with Heck, and often tells him “that immigration is something that will determine how we vote for you in the next election. This is very important to us,” he said. “And if you don’t do it, unfortunately I’ll have to vote against you and campaign against you, even though I like you. This is the right thing to do and we need to do it right now.”
Astrid Silva, 25, has emerged as a prominent spokeswoman for immigrant advocates in southern Nevada. She crossed the Rio Grande with her family from Mexico as a 4-year-old girl and eventually settled in Las Vegas. She has spoken with Heck about immigration reform five times in recent months.
“We know that Heck understands our issues. He’s been evolving on it,” Silva said.
But she’s ready and willing to campaign against Heck if he doesn’t vote the way she wants.
“We’ve waited decades for this and I do think that we have momentum right now,” she said. “If Congress takes much longer on it, we won’t lose the momentum, but we will get very impatient.”
The Post also published Heck’s interview with Ed O’Keefe. He’s got all kinds of ideas of how to change the Senate bill:
Well that gets to my next question: What do you say to your colleagues who are in the so-called “Absolutely Not Caucus” who don’t want to move on this issue at all, but by extension might make it for more difficult for someone like you to win reelection?
Heck: “I’m hopeful that, based on what the Speaker about not bringing up a bill if it doesn’t have 218 votes, that that No Caucus is less than 20 votes.
“I think that in talking to those individuals that have a zero percent or a non-measurable Hispanic constituency in these R-plus infinity districts, they have to understand that for those of us who represent districts regardless of registration edge that have a large foreign population. This is not a Mexican issue, this is not a Hispanic issue. This is an issue about a broken legal immigration system. That’s what it’s about. If they would understand that it’s more than just one ethnic group that we’re talking about here. I’ve had this discussion just as frequently with my Asian American voters as I do with my Hispanic constituents. This crosses ethnic boundaries. And they’ve got to understand that we’ve got to address this broken immigration system or, quite honestly, we maintain the status quo and we continue to see a growing illegal population.”
Heck is on the precipice of the demographic cliff of which we so often speak. And, he’s going to have a key role in solving the immigration issue for the GOP — or letting them go off that cliff.