On today’s “Office Hours” press call, two longtime Congressional champions of immigration reform – Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) – expressed optimism about the prospects for reform this year and discussed the strategies and tactics that they are pursuing to make it happen.
Rep. Gutierrez spoke about the growing strength of the immigration reform movement as well as his commitment to working with Republicans in the House on a bipartisan basis in order to get reform done this year. He highlighted the importance of the rallies to be held by the pro-reform movement in over 80 cities on Saturday, October 5th and in Washington, DC on Tuesday October 8th. He added:
House Democrats are moving forward with a bill and we are unified behind reform. House Republicans remain the one group in the nation that appears indifferent towards reform, but I will continue to work with key Republicans who support reform to get them moving forward as well. The clock is ticking with more than 100,000 people deported since the Senate passed its bill.
Rep. Polis has played an instrumental role in getting Democrats in the House to engage the debate more directly, which is now taking the form of a bill introduction initiated by Democrats and anchored in bipartisan policy. On today’s call, he reminded his colleagues why this debate is so critical:
As the great-grandson of immigrants who came here with nothing but a dream and the clothes on their backs, I see the same desire today from those who come here to make a better life for their families and make our country stronger and more prosperous. Our American ingenuity and innovation are characteristics that stem directly from our identity as a country of immigrants. We in Congress cannot continue to kick the can down the road on immigration reform. We must seize this opportunity to pass a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform package that unites families, creates jobs, and reflects our values as Americans.
The call was moderated by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, who added that the developments of the last week have made him more optimistic rather than less:
The demise of the Gang of 7 working group doesn’t mean that hopes for bipartisanship are dead. To the contrary, it has freed up Rep. Gutierrez and others to be available for the next bipartisan moment, which will surely come given that Republicans can’t get anything approved in the House without Democratic support. It also has freed up House Democrats, led by the likes of Rep. Polis and others, to introduce legislation that has been crafted with bipartisan support. We believe these new dynamics will rally House Democrats and pressure House Republicans in a way that makes reform more likely this year.