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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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Legal Experts, Advocates, and DREAMers Discuss the State of Play in Congress, the Courts, and Politics As the Battle to Protect the Most Profound Immigration Policy Changes in a Generation Begins 

To listen to a recording of today’s call, click here.

With the start of a new year and a new Congress, America’s Voice’s weekly “Office Hours” press briefing is back.

On this week’s call, Marielena Hincapie of the National Immigration Law Center, Patrick Oakford of the Center for American Progress, Lorella Praeli of United We Dream and Frank Sharry of America’s Voice discussed the latest immigration proposals from the new Republican-led Congress, the state of a legal challenge to executive action and the political implications of both.  

In response to Republican plans to attach a sweeping package of hard-line anti-immigrant measures to a must-fund DHS appropriations bill next week, Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy and Policy for United We Dream, said:

Executive action on immigration is working.  Already, more than 600,000 young people have benefitted from DACA, and we’re committed to making sure that millions more benefit from that program’s expansion and from the deferred action program for parents.  On immigration, our country has finally taken a big step forward and United We Dream is committed to stopping those who seek to take us backwards.

Added Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

It’s outrageous that House Leadership has embraced the most extreme proposals from the most extreme members.  This proposal raises the question of whether the GOP is truly divided on immigration?  When leadership backs the most outrageous right-wing proposals, it suggests that the party is no longer divided, but in fact is united in its hostility towards the fastest growing groups of voters in the country?  It’s nothing short of breathtaking that their first move coming out of the gate in 2015 is to attack immigrants and their families.

In addition to ongoing legislative developments on Capitol Hill, outside of the beltway next week a Texas judge will hear arguments in the 25 state lawsuit challenging the President’s recent executive action.  As Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, explained, the lawsuit is light on actual legal substance and heavy on political posturing:  “The state lawsuit is about politics, not policy or the constitutionality of the executive actions.  Ultimately, we – along with scores of legal experts –  believe the courts will prove that President Obama’s immigration policy is legally sound.  Until then, immigrant community members and their allies shouldn’t waste a single moment. The time to get ready for the biggest changes in our immigration system in a quarter century is now.”

Unfortunately for the GOP, both their legislative and legal tactics are nearly certain to backfire come 2016.  As Patrick Oakford, Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress and author of a new report, “The Changing Face of America’s Electorate,” explained: “Demographic changes are making the GOP’s already uphill battle for the White House even steeper.  It’s true that demographics aren’t political destiny, but there is no way around the fact that voters of color are rapidly becoming a  larger share of the electorate.  And the electoral calculus is clear: to win the presidency  a candidate must secure substantial support among voters of color.”