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Outside the Beltway, Pro-Reform Voices Press House Republicans to Pass Immigration Reform

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rallyAre the Republicans Really that Safe in 2014? 

Although some inside the Beltway dismiss the legislative prospects for immigration reform, a different story is playing out across the country.  With lawmakers home in districts for another week, policymakers continue to hear and read from a broad array of local voices who are calling for immigration reform.  Check out this round up of today’s leading clips:

  • Washington Times: “Immigration reformists gain American support, try to turn opponents”: As experienced immigration reporter Stephen Dinan writes, before August recess, “there were predictions that the outcry from conservatives would sink the chances for immigration reform.  Instead, advocates have out-organized opponents, rallying in cities across the country as they try to convince House Republicans that the politics of the issue have changed…In 2007, the last time immigration was debated, a public outcry — including angry constituents shutting down the Senate switchboard — helped doom the bill.  This time, immigrant rights groups have increased their own presence, calling for supporters to be more visible.  Having taken a page from the tea party’s moves to oppose the health care law in the summer of 2009, immigrant rights groups have used Congress‘ five-week summer recess this year, when lawmakers are holding town hall meetings in their home districts, to make themselves seen and heard.”
  • Arizona Republic Editorial: “2 More Cases for Immigration Reform (As If We Need Them)”: The paper editorializes, “Arizona’s two Republican senators make a good case for why the Republican members of the state’s House delegation should help get this done.  The Senate’s comprehensive reform bill isn’t perfect. What compromise is?  It’s so heavy on border security spending that even border hawks flinch. But it contains all the elements necessary to bring order to the chaos.  It represents the best chance at immigration reform in many years. The House risks dickering away the limited time left to get this done, simply because some members oppose the path to citizenship in the Senate bill.  It’s not amnesty. A path to citizenship is a pragmatic part of the whole package.  The House aims to pass pieces of reform and maybe — if the extremists can be placated —offer second-class status for the 11 million undocumented people living and working here now. It’s not in this nation’s best interest, or compatible with its ideals of equality, to decree that some people are good enough to work here permanently, but not good enough to be full civic partners…The House should complete what the Senate began.”
  • Daily Herald (TN) Op-Ed: “Mid-TN Economy Needs Immigration Reform”: Lacy Upchurch, the president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, writes in an op-ed, “The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation recognizes that the current debate surrounding immigration reform can be a complex and emotional issue.  But the bottom line is at a time when Tennessee, and the country as a whole, is struggling to get our economy moving again and unemployment down, we cannot afford to stumble on immigration reform again…While we absolutely support stronger border security, we should not hold common-sense immigration reform proposals hostage to unrealistic proposals that stop any and all reforms from getting done.  It is vital for the House to move legislation forward so that Congress can enact meaningful immigration reform this year.  We hope all of Tennessee’s Congressmen will work with interested parties to find ways to pass meaningful immigration reform.”
  • Daily Record (NJ) Op-Ed: “Citizenship Path Essential in Immigration Reform”: Raymond Bateman, a former New Jersey state Senate president, writes in a new op-ed, “It’s time for immigration reform in the U.S.  While I seldom write about federal issues (I’m a state-issue junkie), the Senate-House stalemate (so far) regarding immigrant reform is of real concern.  Everyone knows we are a country of immigrants, a democracy of hope for millions of people living elsewhere who want better lives, especially for their children.  That we have more than 10 million non-citizens presently living and working in our country has to be Washington’s number-one legislative concern, and there have to be some solutions on how to deal with that problem…The path to citizenship in the USA must be manageable even as it has its difficulties. To deny citizenship to several million people from around the world is not an option and misrepresents what this country of immigrants is all about.  Legislative compromise between the Democrat Senate and Republican House is now a necessity, and 2013 is the year for long-awaited action.”
  • Deseret News (UT): “Less Partisanship on Immigration, Business Leaders Tell Rep. Bishop”: The article states, “Representatives of the northern Utah business community expressed frustration Monday to Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, about the impact of partisan politics on federal immigration reform.  ‘It should not be a partisan issue,’ said Tim Wheelwright, speaking on behalf of the Ogden/Weber and Davis chambers.  He said the differences between Republicans and Democrats need to be set aside for the ‘economic prosperity’ of the country.  ‘That’s what for business, I think, gets so frustrating is to see the partisanship that just pervades Washington and is really holding this up right now,’ said Wheelwright, a Salt Lake-based immigration attorney.”
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Op-Ed: “Manufacturers Need Immigration Reform”: Kurt R. Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, write in a new op-ed, “When lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., in September, they will have an opportunity to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.  With the Senate successfully advancing legislation in June — and the House continuing to deliberate on a path forward — the country is closer to comprehensive reform than it has been in decades.  Opponents of immigration reform have turned to political attacks, but despite these tactics, it does not change the bottom line.  Immigration reform is a competitiveness issue, particularly for manufacturers in the United States — and it’s in everyone’s interest that our nation’s job creators have all the tools they need to compete in the global economy…America’s story is an immigrant story — of people who came here because they believed in the American dream and wanted to play a part in its success. That’s why immigration reform must include a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented individuals in the U.S.  Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers are calling on lawmakers to do the right thing and fix the nation’s broken immigration system.  Immigration reform will strengthen our national and economic security and our communities.”

The lopsided August recess victory by the pro-reform movement, of which today’s editorial and op-ed round-up is just one indication, has put House Republican leadership into a bind.  As Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos captures:

Republicans have two options: 1) kill the bill, and quickly, or 2) pass the bill, and quickly.  Either approach will deliver political pain, so like a bandaid, its [sic] best to rip that thing off as quickly as possible, then hope that people’s attention spans get pulled to the next shiny object (and odds are, they will).  Instead, we have this limbo situation delivering the worst of all worlds.  Every day this battle drags on, the Republican coalition frays a little more from within, Spanish-language media bashes the crap out of Republicans for their hostility and inaction, and Republicans look incompetent and unable to govern to the broader public.

Adds Frank Sharry, Executive Director or America’s Voice:

The conventional wisdom has been that the House GOP is insulated from political risk because so many of their districts are bleached and gerrymandered.  But if they block immigration reform – an issue that enjoys support from constituencies right, left and center as well as public support by more than a 3-1 margin – the 2014 mid-terms may well become more than a district-by-district battle.  It could become a referendum on the GOP’s ability to govern and create the kind of wave election that increases the possibility of the Republicans losing the House.  Not possible?  That’s what the experts inside the beltway said about 2006 – the year Republican irresponsibility and unresponsiveness led to a tsunami that returned the Democrats to the House majority.