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Immigration Reform Office Hours

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office hoursAfter Fiscal and Debt Ceiling Debacle, Could Immigration Reform Be the GOP’s Comeback Issue?

Today, on a press call with reporters, immigration reform leaders and political analysts discussed what’s next for immigration reform in Congress.  After the resolution of the budget crisis this week, space has opened up for the House to tackle immigration reform.  The question is whether House Republican leaders will take the opportunity to prove that they can govern and work with Democrats to solve this important issue.  If they’re interested in winning, they will.

Moderated by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, today’s call featured Jeremy Robbins, Director of the Partnership for a New American Economy; Maria Cardona, Principal at the Dewey Square Group and contributor to CNN/CNN en Español; Simon Rosenberg, President NDN/New Policy Institute; and Kica Matos of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

Said Jeremy Robbins, Director of the Partnership for a New American Economy:

The government shutdown highlighted that Americans are frustrated with a Congress characterized by obstruction and want our leaders in DC to tackle big issues that will help America’s economy and create American jobs. Congress has run out of excuses not to address immigration reform.  The American public wants it, our economy needs it, and the future of both parties depends on it.

The political fallout of the shutdown for Republicans is undeniable.  The GOP now enjoys its lowest approval ratings in history, and 2014 Republican House candidates are already feeling the burn.  A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll from earlier this week showed Republicans in “serious danger” in 29 of 36 House districts surveyed.  Yesterday, the Cook Political Report moved 14 House seats closer to the Democratic column as a direct result of Republicans’ behavior on the budget and debt limit.

Most of the districts highlighted by PPP and Cook are also on the Latino Decisions watch list of “Latino Influence” seats.  After striking out on fiscal issues this fall, these Members should be desperate for the House to act boldly on immigration reform this year.

Maria Cardona, Principal at the Dewey Square Group and contributor to CNN/CNN en Español said:

Republicans have a rich opportunity to rehabilitate their image in the eyes of the American people by showing real leadership on Immigration reform, an issue supported by vast majorities of voters, businesses, faith leaders, law enforcement, labor, and community advocates. The time is now for Speaker Boehner to bring up immigration reform, and show that they can out their country before their party. This is good policy for our national security as well as our economy, and it is also good politics for Republicans, Democrats, and more importantly for the American people.

Said Simon Rosenberg, President NDN/New Policy Institute:

The truth is that we are closer to a deal today than we have ever been. The distance between Republicans and Democrats, between the Senate and House, is not as great as many believe. I remain optimistic that a good deal is within reach, and that the President just might be able to sign immigration reform into law in the coming months.

Also during the call, immigration reform leaders made it clear that the immigration movement is motivated, active, and getting stronger every day. The fight is personal and the movement is ratcheting up the pressure on all concerned until reform becomes a reality. We have the 218 votes necessary to pass an immigration reform bill in the House. Now we just need Republicans to lead and schedule a vote on reform puts 11 million aspiring Americans on the path to full citizenship.

Said Kica Matos, of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), the nation’s largest immigrant-rights coalition:

Right this moment, the families in our nationwide movement are organizing. They are working on actions that will continue to ramp up and drive the pressure on Republicans to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. It’s easy to understand why they’re pouring by the tens of thousands into rallies, marches, civil disobediences and showing up at their congressional offices more than ever: For them, this is intensely personal. It’s about keeping mothers with sons, fathers with daughters. We will no longer stand for the Republican family separation agenda that has torn us apart for far too long. Our time is now, and we are determined to get this done.

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

In the wake of the shutdown and the fiscal debacle, many House Republicans are angry that they lost but at some point we hope that they realize the immigration debate isn’t about President Obama.  It’s about their short term and long term interests. Republicans need to prove they’re capable of governing and if they block one of the best chances for immigration reform in decades, they’ll imperil their majority in the House in 2014.  On the other hand, if they pass immigration reform, they can show they can lead, that they’re capable of working with Democrats and more importantly they can rehabilitate their badly bruised image with Latino voters and the American people.  So will Speaker Boehner and the rest of House leadership double down on irrationality or move forward with pragmatic governance?  It all depends on whether the rational actors in the Party can gain the upper hand over the irrational actors. We’re ready to keep ramping up the pressure until we see the bipartisan breakthrough that is within reach.