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Immigration Reform – Week in Review and Look Ahead: Power and Momentum: Immigration Reform Marches into August

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The pro-immigration reform movement came out in full force this week, delivering a clear and loud message to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his Republican caucus: we’re not backing down on immigration reform.  From protests to rallies to “special” House deliveries, activists and immigration advocates from across the spectrum joined forces to show the ever-growing strength and power behind the immigration reform movement and make a pathway to citizenship the focal point of the House debate.

The fact is that a bipartisan majority for immigration reform with an inclusive path to initial legal status and an achievable path to eventual citizenship exists in the House of Representatives right now.  The only thing standing between that House majority and citizenship for most of the 11 million is a vote in the House of Representatives.

Here’s why we’re more confident than ever about the prospects of reform heading into August recess:

  • Advocates Set to Hold Hundreds of Events in Key Congressional Districts: Ahead of the impending August recess, pro-immigration forces are on the move with hundreds of grassroots events planned from coast to coast. From business and tech groups to labor and faith organizationsRepublican donors and conservative strategists to immigration advocates and the labor movement, it is clear that key House targets will feel the urgency behind scheduling a vote on a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans this fall.  As Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) said to his House GOP colleagues, “If you have a town hall or if you don’t, we’re going to find you in the grocery store because this is it. We’ve never been this close.”
  • Members Receive a Special Parting Gift Ahead of their August Recess: United Farm Workers, United We Dream and America’s Voice sent 224 of them off with a sweet American-grown cantaloupe, harvested by immigrants in California.  The cantaloupes—affixed with the message: “This cantaloupe was picked by immigrants in California” and “You gave Steve King a vote. Give us a vote for citizenship,” were delivered to each Member of the U.S. House who sided with Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on a recent immigration vote to end the Deferred Action program for DREAMers and other uses of prosecutorial discretion in deportation cases.  In total, 224 House members voted yes on the King amendment, including 221 Republicans and 3 Democrats.  Only six Republicans voted against the amendment.  As DREAMer Jose Diaz explained, advocates were getting behind yesterday’s action “to remind them [Republicans] that a lot of us are listening to what they’re saying, it is offensive, and we’re not just willing to stand by and let them talk about us and our families and that we will speak out.”  Just as House leadership gave Steve King a vote on his deportation amendment, pro-immigration groups demanded their vote on a path to citizenship.
  • Immigration Activists Are Ready to do Whatever it Takes to Push Reform Through the Finish Line:  In addition to the special House deliveries, activists took their commitment to reform a step further yesterday.  More than forty immigrant rights, labor, faith and other leaders were arrested as part of an immigration-related civil disobedience action on Capitol Hill.  The leaders, protesting unjust immigration policies, sent an important message to House Republicans that the fight for immigrant families has been escalated and will continue until the House moves forward on legislation that contains a path to citizenship and keeps families together.  New York Times reporter Julia Preston writes, “It was the first time during the immigration debate this year that so many leaders had opted for civil disobedience. ‘We have marched, we have rallied, we have prayed, we have written, we have called and now it is time to take it up another notch,’ Mr. [Deepak] Bhargava said just before his arrest. “We think it is important that the Republican leadership understand the intensity of the feeling in the community about the need for a vote on citizenship.’… Organizers said the action represented the beginning of a campaign of town hall meetings, rallies, vigils and other events in Republican districts during the recess that would extend into the fall, as the House considers whether to vote on any bill that would give legal status to immigrants here illegally.”
  • August Recess Gets an Early Start with Largest Ever Pro-Immigration Rally in Steve King’s District:   Today, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) are visiting Steve King’s district to hold a pro-immigration forum in the wake of King’s ugly comments about DREAMers.  The event, set to feature DREAMers, faith, Latino, labor, business and other leaders, will not only display the breadth and power of the immigration movement but also show the growing support for immigration reform in traditionally conservative regions.  As a poll released last week by the American Action Network, from King’s home district highlighted, King’s views are not even in sync with his own constituents. It noted that “68 percent of voters in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District supports an ‘earned pathway to legal status,’ while 65 percent support an ‘earned pathway to citizenship.’ Of the Republican voters in King’s district, 70 percent back a path to legal status, while 51 percent back a pathway to citizenship.”

The pro-immigration reform movement is moving full steam ahead into August with more support and momentum than it’s ever had.  And as House members head home, they’re sure to feel the heat.  Speaker Boehner and his Republican allies will continue to feel the heat until the House schedules vote on citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.