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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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Congressman Xavier Becerra and Immigration Reform Advocates Discuss Next Week’s House Hearing on the KIDS Act and State of Play in Congress

Today, America’s Voice alongside other immigration advocates and policy experts held the nineteenth in a series of weekly “Office Hours” press briefings.  Moderated by Frank Sharry, Executive Director at America’s Voice, today’s call featured Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Greisa Martinez, Texas Organizer for United We Dream; Edgar Morelos, Steering Committee Board Member of the California Dream Network; Cesar Vargas, Director of the DRM Act Coalition.

During today’s call, speakers discussed the state of play in the House of Representatives, as well as next Tuesday’s KIDS Act hearing in the House Immigration Subcommittee.  The KIDS Act is a Republican bill being drafted by Reps. Cantor and Goodlatte to address the status of undocumented youth who came to the country as children.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-34) Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the bipartisan group drafting comprehensive immigration legislation in the House talked about the state of play:

Momentum is growing.  People, once again, are way ahead of their politicians. There is strong support to get this done. Even House Republicans are changing their tune.  And I believe the votes are there in the House today.  We’re about to enter August recess. I hope this is a time when all proponents of immigration reform will get out there and tell Members of Congress to get this done, to get all of this done completely.

Representatives from several DREAMer-led organizations on the call reacted to the upcoming hearing on the KIDS Act, and expressed outrage about a potential strategy that would legalize DREAMers but leave their parents, older siblings, and other community members behind.

Said Greisa Martinez, Texas Organizer for United We Dream:

We fight for all 11 million because our dreams can never be complete without the original dreamers, our parents, the ones who dared to dream before we could dream for ourselves.  Proposals to provide citizenship for some young people while condemning our parents to permanent second-class status will not get our stamp of approval.  We will not leave our parents behind!

Edgar Morelos, Steering Committee Board Member for the California Dream Network said:

The California Dream Network opposes the efforts by House Republicans to pit DREAMers against their families.  Our parents have dreams too, and they deserve a path to citizenship.  Reform should include a pathway to citizenship not only for DREAMers but for our families and communities too.  We have the votes to do it, but we need the House to step up and realize that immigration reform is not just about immigrant rights; it’s about human rights.  We’re looking for House leadership to give us a vote on citizenship NOW.

Cesar Vargas, Director DREAM Act Coalition said:

With the KIDS Act, the House GOP have certainly taken a step: but it’s a step backwards. Only when they present bills that address the plight of all undocumented immigrants, not just DREAMers, with a clear path to citizenship will they really show to the American people, especially Latino voters, that they have made a positive evolution on immigration.

Comments from Becerra and the DREAMers come on the heels of new polling that shows, once again, broad public support among the American people for an immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million and opposition to proposals that reject that path.  A Gallup poll this week found that 88% of Americans back legislation that would provide a path to citizenship, including 87% of whites, 83% of conservatives and 83% of conservative whites. A new National Journal/United Technologies poll this week found that “only one in five voters said they prefer that the House pass no immigration legislation at all, and only 13 percent said they want the House to strip the path to citizenship from the Senate’s bill.”

Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice saidx:

The KIDS Act is not a match for the moment.  This isn’t 2010, when a Democratic-led House passed the DREAM Act because deliberations on comprehensive reform had stalled in the Senate. It’s 2013. We’ve seen an election that showed the hunger for reform, we’ve seen that a path to citizenship is the most popular component of reform with the American people in polls, and we’ve seen the Senate come together on a bipartisan basis to pass a comprehensive bill that includes a path to citizenship for all 11 million—a bill we believe could pass the House if introduced today. We do not accept that a diluted DREAM Act is the best House Republicans can come up with. We want them to rise to the occasion and produce a bipartisan solution that will actually address the problem.

For recordings and resources from prior Office Hours calls, click here.


·         Gallup Poll – Passing New Immigration Laws Is Important to Americans