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ICYMI: Pro-Immigration Recess Activity Continues to Generate Results

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aFrom Coast to Coast, the Immigration Reform Movement is Engaging the House GOP in a Public Discussion on Immigration Reform and the Question of What to Do with the 11 Million Undocumented Americans Already Here

Pro-reform forces are making their presence felt in districts around the country, and House Republicans are being forced to grapple with the question of what they want to do with the 11 million aspiring citizens in the U.S. without papers.

In a new article titled, “Republicans May Be Changing Minds on Immigration Reform,” Serena Marshall of ABC News writes:

Members of Congress have been on recess for only a few days, but it already seems the time away from Washington means more support for a pathway to citizenship among some Republicans.  In the past few days, two Republican members of the House of Representatives — Daniel Webster in Florida, Aaron Schock in Illinois — have expressed preliminary support for a way to legalize undocumented immigrants and allow them to eventually earn full citizenship. Even the House GOP whip, Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), announced support for legal status, although he stopped just short of supporting full citizenship.  The announcements come on the cusp of an intense campaign by pro-immigration advocates targeting key House members at town-hall events; it’s all part of a larger five-week plan for hundreds of rallies, petition drives and other events across the country timed for the Congressional recess.

In a piece from the Orange County Register entitled “GOP Opens Up On Immigrants’ Legal Status” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) says:

Having (undocumented immigrants) come from the shadows and be determined on an individual basis as to whether they stay longterm, midterm, or be ordered to leave – that’s the area that I think we have to get right, because it sends a message (regarding) what we’d do in the future with similar individuals who came here without coming through the front door.

Responded Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) in the same piece:

There is a way to satisfy Republicans that no undocumented immigrant gets special treatment while at the same time satisfying Democrats that no immigrants are precluded from applying for citizenship eventually, if they go through the process and qualify.

In Washington state, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) takes on a conservative talk radio host about the undocumented, and, says:

The problem is that those people who came illegally have a responsibility and a debt to pay, but there also is a responsibility on our part to recognize that the fed govt and immigration system failed…failed to secure borders and hold people accountable…that brings us to today to the 12 million folks, what do we do?  What about those folks who have been here 25 years?…what do you do with those people?….I want them to pay a fine, there’s some penalties they have to through, I want to hold them accountable and then they get citizenship and pay taxes.

Here are some other clips that capture the movement on the ground.

  • Washington TimesWolf at the Door: Immigrant Rights Issue Follows Lawmakers Home: “Five dozen immigration rights activists picketed outside Rep. Frank R. Wolf’s Herndon office Wednesday, demanding he vote for a bill that would extend citizenship rights to 11 million illegal immigrants — a scene that is being repeated outside countless Republican congressional district offices this summer…The pressure back home is forcing lawmakers to take a stand.”
  • CBS (Colorado)Colorado Leaders to Urge House Action on Immigration Reform – Greeley: “During a crucial August recess for the House of Representatives, top Colorado faith, law enforcement, business and agriculture leaders will gather for a Congressional District 4 Immigration Roundtable.  These leaders will meet Thursday for a discussion sponsored by Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform Network and the Partnership for a New American Economy as a part of the #BBBwinsAugust campaign, which will highlight the support for broad reform in Colorado and urge the state’s congressional delegation to vote ‘yes’ on commonsense immigration reform.  The event is one of dozens across the country this month featuring local leaders from across the political spectrum.  With members of Congress listening to their constituents about how to proceed on immigration in Colorado and nationwide, Bibles, Badges and Business leaders are saying in a clear and unified voice that Congress must keep broad immigration reform moving when it returns to Washington.”
  • The Star Ledger (New Jersey)Labor Union to Protest for Immigration Reform at Offices of Republican Congressmen: “Protests aimed at garnering support for immigration reform are planned outside the offices of three Republican congressmen Wednesday and Thursday.  They hope to convince the congressmen to vote for a landmark immigration reform bill that passes in the U.S. Senate, said Kevin Brown, vice president and New Jersey director for 32BJ of the Service Employee International Union, a labor union representing about 10,000 property service workers throughout New Jersey.  ‘We think that it’s time for all of Congress to stand up for immigration reform,’ Brown said… The Wednesday protest will be outside the office of Rep. Leonard Lances’s office in Westfield at noon and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s office at 4 p.m.  On Thursday, protesters will head to Rep. Chris Smith’s Hamilton office.
  • Courier Tribune (North Carolina)Protest March for Immigration Reform Hits Asheboro Streets: “Cars slowed and people stared as a crowd of people clothed in white brandishing American flags and protest signs marched through the streets of Asheboro Wednesday to demand that U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship…The protest, organized by the Latino Coalition of Randolph County (LCRC), saw a diverse group gather at Memorial Park on Church Street and walk together down Church Street and Sunset Avenue escorted by officers of the Asheboro Police Department…Demonstrators were surprised to find Ellmers waiting for them at Bicentennial Park.  The congresswoman, who addressed the crowd, said that she was willing to engage in dialogue with her constituents on the issue…Yubi Aranda, LCRC president and an Asheboro resident, posed a question to the representative before she left the stage, asking if she was willing to stand up for everyone like she supported children in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  Introduced by President Obama, it gives the children of undocumented immigrants temporary legal status.  The answer was an instant yes, with Ellmers declaring that she ‘wholeheartedly’ supports a pathway to legal status.”
  • Cincinnati Herald (Ohio)Faith, Community, Labor, Immigrant Leaders Call for Vote on Immigration Reform: “Over 500 people of all faiths gathered outside Speaker John Boehner’s Springfield Office on July 27 to ask Boehner and other House of Representative Leaders to call for up a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.  People from all over Southwest Ohio, Columbus, and as far away as Lexington and Louisville Kentucky came together to calling for the House of Representatives to fix America’s broken immigration system.  Faith, labor, community and immigrant leaders spoke out to urge the Speaker to exercise in the words of Troy Jackson, ‘Bold Leadership.’”
  • Fox 13 (Utah)Local Organizations Hold Immigration Forum: “A group of Utah organization leaders and local church officials took part in an immigration reform meeting Tuesday to discuss a pathway to citizenship.  Fall recess in congress began Friday, so supporters of the event wanted to make their voices heard while Utah congressmen are home.  Several immigration organizations and the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake were there to urge representatives Jim Matheson and Rob Bishop to act in favor of humane immigration reform.”
  • America’s Voice (re Corpus Christi, Texas): Immigration Reform Advocates Deliver 10k Petitions to Rep. Farenthold; Farenthold Gives Supporters Free Lunch to Stand Against Families: “Something ugly happened yesterday in Corpus Christi, Texas when almost 50 immigration reform activists from TexasRITA and other groups gathered at Rep. Blake Farenthold’s (R-TX) district office to deliver 10,000 petitions asking the Congressman to support immigration reform and a path to citizenship.  Ten thousand petitions in a single district, by the way, is far from something you see every day.  Farenthold, in response, went on the offensive, tweeting at and asking his own followers to show up at his office to stand with him against immigration reform and against families.  The event quickly became chaotic as Farenthold’s supporters began shouting down the folks on our side and asking them if they were ‘illegal.’”

As Frank Sharry, Executive Director at America’s Voice, notes:

It’s clear that House Members are already starting to feel the August heat and some are starting to see the light.  As the recess continues, immigration reform advocates from the left, right and center are determined to have a strong public discussion with House GOP Members who are struggling to come up with a clear position on the issue at the heart of the immigration reform debate: how to incorporate the 11 million immigrants who are Americans in all but the paperwork.  They are beginning to understand that inaction is not an option, and that the 11 million are here to stay.  Now they have to understand that we as a society cannot have a permanent underclass and that initial legalization and eventual citizenship is not a part of the problem but a part of the answer.