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Washington, DC – On today’s immigration reform “Office Hours”press call, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and other pro-reform advocates discussed the latest immigration developments stemming from the House of Representatives and gave an update on how the pro-reform movement is ramping up the pressure with events across the country.
The confrontation between two teenage activists, Jenni Martinez and Carmen Lima, and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) drew lots of attention this week. The Speaker told the girls regarding the prospects of immigration in the House: “I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done…It’s, uh, as you know, not easy, not going to be an easy path forward. But I’ve made it clear since the day after the election it’s time to get this done.”
Yet after telling these young activists that he would find a way forward, Speaker Boehner said to the press a mere few hours later that the House GOP has “no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill,” drawing a barrage of harsh criticism fromreform advocates, Members of Congress and English and Spanish language media alike.
In response to this development, longtime immigration championRep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said on today’s call, “No one, not even Speaker Boehner, can call immigration reform dead. For millions of American families, if is far from dead. The immigration reform movement is too big and too broad to be dismissed and Latino voters are a force that is growing faster and tilting more towards the Democrats with each day that Republicans stand in the way of stopping the deportations that are breaking up Latino families. We are having the 46th vote to gut Obamacare in the House today, why not give us just one vote on the immigration reform the country wants and needs?”
Added Jenni Martinez, one of the brave teenage girls who confronted Boehner at breakfast and youth leader with OneAmerica, “A child being separated from their parent is wrong. Not putting comprehensive immigration reform to vote is wrong. Putting 11 million people on a pathway to citizenship is the right and moral thing to do. These are human lives we’re dealing with, and we can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Right now, the only immigration vote Speaker Boehner allowed this year was on a Steve King amendment to subject DREAMers to deportation, making it clear that so far on immigration he’s letting the extreme wing of his conference set the agenda, despite the overwhelming support for pragmatic policies from diverse sectors of society.
But as House Republicans look for excuses not to do their jobs, immigrants and advocates continue to work every day to push the House to act. Between a fast in DC, a new voter contact effort in key GOP districts, civil disobedience actions, and meetings with Members of Congress and kids impacted by deportation, the momentum in favor of reform with a pathway to citizenship continues to grow, and the pressure on House Republican leadership to find a way to get it done will only increase in the coming weeks.
Added Mary Kay Henry, President of SEIU, “The movement has never been this strong and we have never been as close as we are now to commonsense immigration reform. From the advocates who have been fasting for four days in the shadow of the Capitol to people around the country holding demonstrations and prayer vigils, we will not be deterred. The time for reform is now.”
Concluded Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Speaker Boehner can give all the procedural and calendar excuses he wants, but from our perspective, there’s lots of time, the windows of opportunities are there, and Congress should act before elections season begins. You can see with your own eyes how our movement is mobilizing: people are fasting, doing civil disobedience, there’s rallies, young people acting courageously, and companies, churches, evangelicals all pressing the House Republicans to take action. At the end of the day it’s up to House Leadership to come forward, and do what they were paid to do and schedule a vote on immigration reform. But if they don’t, well, there are going to be consequences to those decisions–if this Congress refuses to pass reform, the growing movement in support of reform will dedicate a lot of time next year to electing a Congress that will.”
To listed to a recording of todays’ call, click HERE.