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Why June is the Make-or-Break Month for Immigration Reform

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A consensus has emerged on immigration reform prospects in this Congress: there is a very narrow and rapidly closing window for legislative action in the House of Representatives.  What this means is that June is the make-or-break month for immigration reform – and for the Republican Party’s future.

As congressional immigration reform champion Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and many immigration advocates have made clear, we will know before the 4th of July recess if there is any real chance for passing legislation this Congress.  By the end of June, House Republicans will need to have demonstrated their intent, not through vague rhetoric and wishful thinking, but through concrete actions.  By then, they will have introduced legislative proposals regarding the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America and announced floor votes for before the August recess – or they will be held responsible for blocking immigration reform in this Congress.

Here’s why.  It will be virtually impossible for Congress to pass a broad overhaul of immigration reform in September and October of this year, the months immediately preceding the November mid-terms.  And it is highly unlikely that such major legislation will be enacted during the lame-duck session following the mid-terms – unless significant action is taken by the House before the August recess.  Finally, talk of reform being enacted in the next Congress is pure fantasy.  2015 and 2016 will be dominated by a divisive GOP presidential nomination race that will make Republican unity and/or a bipartisan breakthrough on immigration reform impossible.  It really is, as Greg Sargent of the Washington Post’s “The Plum Line” wrote yesterday about prospects for legislation in this Congress, “probably now or never.”

June also will see three key moments for the immigration reform movement: June 6thwill be the one year anniversary of House Republicans’ passage of the Steve King-authored amendment to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and subject DREAMers to deportation; June 15thwill be two year anniversary of the Obama Administration’s establishment of the DACA program – a decision that changed the course of the 2012 elections; and June 27th will be the one year anniversary of the U.S. Senate’s passage of immigration reform legislation by a bipartisan 68-32 vote margin.

As the window of opportunity closes on Republicans, the window of opportunity will be wide open for President Obama take bold executive action to provide affirmative relief to low-priority undocumented immigrants.  And if House Republicans continue to block reform, they will continue to march over the “demographic cliff.”  Last week, America’s Voice launched a new website – www.gopcliff.com – that depicts the GOP’s bleak future if they block immigration reform.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The clock is ticking, the GOP’s political future is at stake and yet House Republicans are acting like they have all the time in the world.  They don’t.  If they don’t move on immigration reform in the next few weeks, they will cede the initiative to President Obama, squander the opportunity to do the right thing on a set of policies that are clearly in the national interest and miss the chance to regain their competitiveness with the changing American electorate.  To put it more bluntly, if House Republicans don’t step up in the next seven weeks, they are all but guaranteeing the Presidency of Hillary Clinton for the next eight years.

320 Days Since Senate Passed its Immigration Bill; 44 Days Left Until Window of Opportunity Closes