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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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State of Play on Politics and Policy, In Congress and the Administration

Pressure from across the country continued to mount this week on both House Republicans and the Obama Administration.  On this week’s Office Hours call, we discussed the policy changes prioritized by members of the immigrant and Latino communities and the political ramifications for both political parties.       

As Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, said:

We’re agitating for administrative reform and we’re agitating for a vote in Congress because we need both.  The situation is urgent.  Every day, families are being torn apart.  Today, Alfredo Ramos got justice but Esmeralda Lopez is still living a nightmare that’s just been delayed a few weeks.  Both have U.S. citizen children who don’t understand why their country wants to separate them from their beloved parents.  These tragedies can end, if House Republicans and the Obama Administration step up to the plate.

Earlier this week, United We Dream announced five meaningful immigration policy reforms for the Obama Administration to make to stop the pain and heal the wounds inflicted on the immigrant community.  Said Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy and Policy for United We Dream:

The deportations crisis under the Obama Administration continues to be moral failing for the immigrant community, and any reforms that help families stay together are a good thing.  The potential changes that are being talked about now, though, fall short of United We Dream’s demands of the President to ease the pain in our communities. These are steps that the President should have taken long ago and the fact that we’re still discussing them now is unfortunate.  If Obama fails to follow through on delivering meaningful administrative relief once again, we’re ready to hold him accountable.

Keiko Maruyama, a U.S. citizen from Washington state, is the perfect example of somone who is suffering in the wake of inaction by Congress and indifference from the Administration.  She’s been doing everything she can to fight the deportation of her husband and baby’s father, Jaime Rubio Sulficio. Keiko recently launched a petition to drive support around her husband’s case:

My husband Jaime and I met through a common group of friends in Seattle, WA.  I am a domestic violence survivor from my previous boyfriend, and my social life circle was limited back then.  Jaime became one of my trusting friends who supported me and protected me through my difficult time, guiding me through the cloud of fear and making me realize I was not alone.  ICE granted my husband a one-year stay of removal previously, in 2012, but when we asked for a permanent deferral in 2013, they denied us and set a deportation date of June 30th.  I have a medical condition and need Jaime around to take care of our son, but ICE didn’t consider that in our case.  Nor did they take into consideration what growing up without a father would do to our 14-month-old son who said ‘papa’ for the first time just a few days ago.  Jaime deserves to experience our son’s special moments throughout his life, and our son deserves to have his father.

Advocates continue to press House Republicans to do their job as well, and schedule a vote on broad immigration reform with a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans.  Yesterday, 1,100 California farm workers delivered handpicked produce to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) Bakersfield office and called on the Congressman to schedule a vote (see the highlight reel from yesterday’s event here).  And last night in Washington, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, the local farm workers union, rallied and held a civil disobedience action in Rep. Greg Walden’s (R-WA) office.

Said Diana Tellefson Torres, Executive Director of the United Farm Workers Foundation, on today’s call:

I’m always inspired by the strength and work ethic of these men and women who do the backbreaking labor required to harvest America’s produce, but yesterday was truly remarkable.  As these aspiring Americans proved, the issue of immigration is simply not going away–no matter how many excuses McCarthy and his Party come up with.  Every day immigrants risk everything to do some of the most difficult jobs in the country.  McCarthy should—at the very least—do his job and schedule a vote on immigration reform that the majority of the country supports.

Added Erasto Teran, a farm worker:

All I want is for Congressman Kevin McCarthy to take leadership and 10 minutes of his time for a vote on immigration reform. Farm workers, especially, need immigration reform now. We know we have the votes, all we need is the leadership.

Meanwhile, as a new post published on the Latino Decisions website this week, “Immigration Legislation or Executive Action Will Shape Latino Vote,”  underscored, both parties are set to pay a steep political price in the absence of action at both the Administrative and legislative levels. As Gary Segura, Professor of American Politics and Chair of Chicano/a Studies, Stanford University and Co-Founder of Latino Decisions, explained:

As the immigration debate drags on, inaction has the potential to hurt both parties.  If the President does not act through executive action, Democratic prospects in close states and districts in 2014 diminish as Latino voter enthusiasm wanes.  Refusal of the House GOP to move, on the other hand, raises long-term issues for their viability as a national party and their presidential prospects for the foreseeable future.  If nothing moves, Latinos are on their way to being a demobilized Democratic electorate with a serious long-term grudge against the GOP.

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