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House GOP Slow Walks Immigration Reform, Instead Releases Video Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

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How About a Vote Instead of a Video?

No words can describe just who exactly the House GOP thinks it’s fooling by releasing this new video celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (one has to look no further than the viewer comments to see that we are not alone).

The video begins by featuring House GOP leaders including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), before going on to speaking parts from Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Bill Flores (R-TX), and Raul Labrador (R-ID)–a couple of them speaking Spanish, all of them offering vague platitudes about the contributions of Hispanics.

The video is perhaps the latest effort to satisfy this year’s Republican National Committee (RNC) directive to make the Party friendlier to immigrants, Latinos, and minorities.  But apparently, Republican leaders didn’t read the part that says they have to actually “embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” not just smile for the camera.  In fact, some of the people featured in the video are directly responsible for the fact that Congress has yet to pass immigration reform despite a strong bipartisan showing in the Senate.

Yes, Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen are immigration reform supporters who are in favor of a path to citizenship.  And Raul Labrador was part of the House Group of 8 on immigration before he left, citing irreconcilable differences in June.  But Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy?  Hardly the best ambassadors for the GOP to the Latino community.  There are already enough votes in the House to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship–if it weren’t for the “Hastert Excuse” that Boehner and his buddies are clinging onto.

The Latino community is closely following and readily engaged on the immigration issue.  During rehearsals for the postponed White House “Musica Latina” event yesterday, several performers spoke to Spanish language media about their commitment to reform and the importance of the issue for the broader Hispanic community.  As Alejandro Sanz, Grammy Award winning Spanish singer and songwriter, told EFE (as translated by America’s Voice), “I know many people’s stories, their immigration, how they got to this country, and how hard it is to get papers so they can live here. Reform is urgent and necessary… if there’s still undocumented people [who have been] living in this country for many years, it’s that we still haven’t done enough.”  Gloria Estefan, Lila Downs, and other Latino celebrities scheduled to perform also spoke up clearly and powerfully in favor of reform.  With Spanish media covering the issue on a daily basis, House Republicans have to realize that they’re in the spotlight and either need to rise to the occasion or face a backlash from voters in 2014 and beyond.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Instead of a video celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, how about a vote?  Speaker Boehner and House leadership just don’t get it.  By failing to address the single-most important policy issue to the Latino community, Boehner is essentially leaving our nation’s immigration system in the hands of Rep. Steve King (R-IA)–an anti-immigrant blowhard who compares immigrants to animals, claims that most DREAMers are actually drug mules with ‘calves the size of cantaloupes,’ and thinks that members of self-identified ethnic groups are people who ‘feel sorry for themselves.’  Steve King is also the only guy whose policy preferences on immigration have been voted on by the entire House, when Boehner allowed a vote on King’s June amendment to deport DREAMers and others.  Until we see Boehner schedule a vote on real reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans currently living in this country, we’ll assume that Steve King holds the cards on the House GOP’s immigration stance.