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Office Hours: Week in Review

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office hoursImmigration Reform Movement Alive and Well; We’re Kicking Butt and Taking Names

As the third week of August recess comes to a close with successful events across the country, more Republicans are coming out for a path to citizenship and immigration reform is alive and well. The pro-immigrant movement is strong, growing and ready to hold the Republican Party accountable.

Today, in a conference call with reporters, immigration reform leaders discussed how the immigration reform movement is winning the August recess and what this means for the ongoing battle to win immigration reform with an inclusive path to initial legal status and an achievable path to eventual citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America. Moderated by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, today’s call featured Eliseo Medina,  Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Rich Stolz, Executive Director of One America; and Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of  Voces de la Frontera.

Said Eliseo Medina, Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU):

Just last week, on a very hot day, I joined caravans of thousands of people from all over California and converged in Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s district, showing him and the country that the momentum for citizenship is strong and determined. We sent a clear and unmistakable message that we will not stop calling, we will not stop marching, until they give us a vote on citizenship. Make no mistake today we are marching to their offices asking for their help, but tomorrow we will be marching to the polls with their report card in hand. If they want us to vote for them, they have to vote for us first. That’s a promise, and it’s one we’ve kept before.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera in Wisconsin, said:

In visiting cities and towns across Wisconsin, our statewide tour has been able to lift up the economic benefits of immigration reform, totaling 490 million dollars for the state.  But it’s also provided a platform for state elected officials to communicate the urgency of our federal congressional representatives to pass legalization with a path to citizenship this year.  In Wisconsin, 46 bi-partisan legislators recently signed a letter urging Congress to act on this request, including Republican Governor Walker, who came out in support of a path to citizenship.  For immigrant families and their allies, this urgency does not end based on a legislative or political timeline. Our tour will culminate in Rep Paul Ryan’s district because we want to send him a clear message, he is in a unique place to lead within the Republican Party and Wisconsin families expect him to work to move his colleagues and get us a vote for citizenship in the House floor. Coming out in favor of immigration reform with a path to citizenship is great, but now he needs to put some more skin in the game and get us through the finish line.

Rich Stolz, Executive Director of One America in Washington state added:

Washington State has been active throughout August generating tens of thousands of calls to House Members, meeting directly with them, and holding Congressional town halls on immigration reform. And it’s paying off. Republican Congressman David Reichert expressed his support recently for comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship, on a conservative talk radio program. Immigrants and advocates in Washington are fired up and our leaders are listening, even in areas of the state that are traditionally viewed as very conservative.

The immigration reform movement is ready to deliver. As members enjoy the last days in their districts before heading back to Washington, DC, the immigrant community, labor, business and faith leaders, immigration reform advocates and DREAMers are all ramping up their efforts to get Republicans to support a path to citizenship and to help put pressure on Speaker John Boehner and GOP leadership to give us a vote on citizenship in the House floor.

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

The conventional wisdom before summer started was that the anti-immigrant groups were going to come out strong and immigration reform was going to die an August death.  Quite to the contrary, the anti-immigrant groups have been extremely weak and our movement has been on fire.  What has this translated into?  There have been a notable number of Republicans—from Reps. Daniel Webster (R-FL) to Aaron Schock (R-IL) to Dave Reichert (R-WA) and now Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)–that have come out for citizenship during the recess, and we’re now up to 24 Republicans who have publically stated their support for citizenship.  There are many more who have expressed their support privately.  What this means is that we have a bipartisan majority of Representatives in the House today that would pass immigration reform with citizenship if Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) allowed the House majority to work its will.  As August recess draws to a close and House Members return to Washington, the power of the immigration movement will grow and we won’t stop until we get a vote on citizenship.  At the end of the day, either Boehner lets the House majority express its will or he and his Party get blamed for blocking one of the best chances for immigration reform in decades.

To keep tabs on Republican House Members who have come out for a path to citizenship, follow the America’s Voice blog here.