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National Immigration Advocates Set Stage for House GOP Issues Conference

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DREAMers, Advocates, and a Constituent from McMorris Rodgers’ District Lay Out Expectations Ahead of GOP Retreat

The 2014 immigration debate in the House is about to kick off, and pro-reform leaders and constituents of key House Republicans have some words of advice for the House GOP: turn those principles into legislation and do it fast. 

As Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration and Public Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, reminded House Republicans:

The human stakes are high.  If Congress does not fix our failed immigration system, immigrant families and communities—and the social fabric of the nation–will continue to break apart.

On a press call today, DREAMers, and advocates for immigrant workers analyzed the prior night’s State of the Union and Republican response by House Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and looked ahead to a discussion of immigration at the Republicans’ issues conference.

Said Lorella Praeli, Advocacy and Policy Director at United We Dream, who was in the audience for last night’s address:

I was honored to be invited by Congresswoman Lofgren as her guest to the State of the Union address and to hear President Obama’s speak alongside other members of the immigrant community and the United We Dream network who’d been invited by Representatives Gutierrez, Garcia, Himes, and others.  While President Obama once again called for legislative action on immigration, he didn’t acknowledge his atrocious record of deportations or agree to use his executive authority to stop the pain in our community through out-of-control deportations.  While he’s willing to take action singlehandedly on other political issues, he so far refuses to stop deporting people who would be granted legal status and a chance for citizenship under legislation he champions.  We will keep pushing him to halt deportations and reminding him and the House GOP of the staggering cost of inaction.

“Last night, during President Obama’s State of the Union address once again, the President has shown us his commitment to immigration reform. It’s unfortunate, that the GOP’s rebuttal failed to mention any immigration reform resolutions,” said United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez. “The applause, by those who were present at the President’s State of the Union address shows us that we’re not alone. This is the year for immigration reform.”

Ahead of McMorris Rodger’s State of the Union response last night, local farmworkers and constituent advocates held a rally and press conference in front of her district office, reminding the Congresswoman of what’s at stake on immigration and calling on her to take the lead in moving the process forward.  Said Mary Lopez:

We want Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to take leadership on immigration reform with a path to citizenship.  She knows that we need immigration reform for the 11 million people  living in the shadows.  Children can’t wait, students can’t wait, we can’t wait, that’s why I’m not going to stop.

As Angela Kelley, Vice President of Immigration Policy at Center for American Progress, explained the key days are ahead at the GOP issues conference:

As we look at what Republicans release in the next few days, the first question will be: what’s in and what’s out? The Republican position on enforcement has basically been ‘self-deportation’—will they change, or are they trying to squeeze in policies like those found in the SAFE Act and spread the Arizona model around the country? Will Republicans stop ignoring the 11 million? It’s now widely reported that the principles will address the 11 million by advocating legalization without a special path to citizenship, which is enormously significant. When the Republicans put out their principles, will there be more cheers or jeers? My hope is that we’ll build on the reaction from last summer’s conference, when a number of members stood up and called for action, and we’ll see more Republicans like Jeff Denham, who has come out and strongly said that we can’t just leave 11 million people out in the cold with no chance at citizenship. And finally, after this week’s partisan opening play, will both parties be willing to shift into bipartisan mode? The clock is ticking. The Democrats have to resist using this as a political football; the Republicans need to make plays that move the ball down the field; and both parties need to get it into the end zone.

Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, added:

There’s a real sense of inevitability on immigration reform that doesn’t exist on other issues.  There’s the demographic reality; there’s the human cost of inaction; and of course there are the policy and political tolls.  Right now we’re seeing a really opening to get to a consensus in the House— last night, both the President and the Republicans mentioned it in their respective speeches.  It’s one of the only policy issues that has a chance of a bipartisan breakthrough this year.  The writing is on the wall for the GOP.  The question is what is their next move and how do we get a process moving forward that can result in legislation passing the House and Senate and winding up on the President’s desk?

Listen to a recording of today’s call HERE.