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As Congress returns to work next week, one thing is clear: the immigration reform movement has never been stronger. And the movement gets stronger every day. We continue to build political power while our opponents continue to lose credibility.
After the August recess, another thing is clear: we now have the votes to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship in the House. The only thing standing in our way is the leadership on behalf of House “leadership” to schedule the vote. Within the House GOP caucus, there are declared supporters of citizenship, up to 25 now. We know there are others who will vote that way but haven’t made public declarations yet. And, there is another group we call the “vote no, pray yes” caucus (these members understand that reform needs to pass for the good of the Party, but probably won’t vote for it. They’re important for Boehner).
In addition to the strength of immigration activists, we have the power of an unprecedented coalition spanning the ideological spectrum. We’ve got the Bibles, Badges and Business (BBB) coalition. Evangelicals and Catholics have made immigration a priority. The labor movement is stalwart, as is big business and the high tech industry.
Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant side is faltering. They’re not picking up any new support in Congress. For them, August recess was a bust, exposing their waning influence.
More importantly, we have politics on our side. Polls have consistently shown support for a pathway to citizenship. That’s magnified by polling of Latino voters who view immigration as core issue. And we have demographics on our side. As we’ve said many times at America’s Voice, a demographic cliff is looming for the GOP. Some members clearly get it. Others not so much — yet.
One of the clearest indicators of the country’s changing demographics was outlined in a new report this week.
Rob Paral produced an analysis in conjunction with the Immigration Policy Center, which shows how new immigrant, Latino and Asian voters will alter the electorate. Paral shows that the ranks of voters who have a direct connection to the immigration debate is only going to grow. In fact, 1/3 of new voters in 2014 will have immigrant roots. Paral provided a breakdown:
There are 171 congressional districts where naturalized citizens and young Asians and Latinos will comprise at least a third of newly eligible voters in 2014. This represents 39 percent of all districts. Fifty-five of the 171 districts are currently represented by a Republican. Districts where naturalized citizens and young Asian and Latino new voters are more than half of the new voters are overwhelmingly Democratic (79 Democrats to 21 Republicans). However, the amount of districts where these groups represent between 33 percent and 50 percent of new potential voters are roughly split between the two parties, with 37 districts represented by Democrats and 34 represented by Republicans.
See for yourself:
Paral’s analysis also provides a listing of both Republican and Democratics Districts with Largest Impact of Naturalized Immigrant Voters and Young Asians/Latinos in 2014. For the GOP, the top ten are: CA-21 (Valadao), FL-27 (Ros-Lehtinen), FL-25 (Diaz-Balart), CA-39 (Royce), CA-31 (Miller), NM-02 (Pearce), CA-22 (Nunes), TX-27 (Farenthold), CA-10 (Denham) and CA-48 (Rohrabacher).
Upon release of this report, Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, accurately noted:
“The report clearly shows that the U.S. – in every state and every district – is becoming more diverse. It’s these new voters who are demanding immigration reform and will not elect – or re-elect – members of Congress who do not support comprehensive reform now.
Earlier this year, Latino Decisions produced an analysis of identified 44 House Districts likely to see competitive races, where Latino voters can influence the outcome. Republicans in these “Latino Influence Districts” are the politicians who urgently need real reform to pass in the House as soon as possible. These districts were broken into three tiers:
Our analysis identifies 14 “tier 1” GOP-held House seats with large Latino populations and narrow margins of victory in 2012 and where we expect Latino voters will decide the 2014 outcomes. Add to this 10 “tier 2” districts in which Latinos are quite likely to be influential and 20 “tier 3” states in which Latinos could be influential.
We have been tracking statements made about immigration by Members of Congress. Below is a synopsis of where GOP Members in these 44 “Latino Influence Districts”currently stand on policy. As you can see, in these 44 Districts where the Member hasspoken recently on the issue, 13 support a path to citizenship while 12 are vague but seem to support something less than full citizenship for the 11 million but more than mass deportation. Only a handful, including Michele Bachmann are adamantly opposed to any type of reasonable reform, and a few have stayed silent—for now. If August is any indication, our movement will continue to apply pressure on all 44 until they—and other Republicans who have good reasons to support immigration reform—come out of the shadows.”
Jeff Denham (CA-10): Supports a path to citizenship.
Gary Miller (CA-31): Despite a comment this spring that indicated he supported earned status and citizenship for the undocumented, he says he empathizes with undocumented immigrants but is still unsure of how to address the issue. But this “empathy” comes out in strange ways; in August, he told a group of DREAMers he understood their plight because he once moved from Arkansas to California.
Scott Tipton (CO-3): Noncommittal on citizenship; wants “empathy” toward DREAMers but no action until after border-security and guest-worker are passed.
Mike Coffman (CO-6): Supports a path to citizenship.
Steve Southerland (FL-2): Responded to a DREAMer’s question at an August town hall by calling for compassion for DREAMers, but would not commit on the question of citizenship.
Dan Webster (FL-10): Supports a path to citizenship.
Robert Pittenger (NC-9): Supports the undocumented coming out of the shadows and getting work visas, but has made no comment on citizenship.
Joe Heck (NV-3): Supports a path to citizenship.
Mike Grimm (NY-11): Supports a path to citizenship.
Christopher Gibson (NY-19): Refusing to discuss citizenship until border security, other pieces are in place.
Tom Reed (NY-23): As of July, he supported legal status but not citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. At an August town hall, he responded to a question from a DREAMer by saying he supports citizenship for DREAMers.He has not made any comments about the rest of the undocumented since changing his position on DREAMers.
Randy Weber (TX-14): Attended Steve King’s 6-hour press conference along with several leading members of the “Hell No” caucus, where hedescribed immigrants as “takers.” Has said, “If there’s even a hint of amnesty in my district, it’s dead on arrival.”
Jackie Walorski (IN-2): Said she is opposed to “amnesty” at a recent town hall, but avoided a direct response on a question about citizenship.
Vern Buchanan (FL-16): Expresses opposition to “amnesty” and has praised the House’s piecemeal approach, but has not expressly stated a position on the question of citizenship or legal status for the undocumented.
Buck McKeon (CA-25): Remains quiet on citizenship (except for bad language on his House website)
Rodney Davis (IL-13): He says he would like to see a path to legal status for DREAMers, but needs to see specific bills before making a decision on citizenship or on the broader undocumented population.
Jon Runyan (NJ-3): Has been quiet on immigration.
Jim Renacci (OH-16): Made comments in February supporting a “very narrowly tailored” approach that would send immigrants to the back of the line. Since the passage of the Senate bill, has only made broad comments about “respect(ing) the rule of law” and the need for border security first.
Michelle Bachmann (MN-6): Leading opponent. Is a cosponsor of the SAFE Act.
Peter King (NY-2): Supports a path to citizenship.
Dan Benishek (MI-1): Has been silent on immigration reform.
Chris Collins (NY-27): Opposes a pathway to citizenship for “adults who came here illegally,” but appears to support second-class status. Has not staked a position on DREAMers.
Bill Johnson (OH-6): Believes that the border must be secured even before Congress considers a guest-worker program or visa waiver reforms, and strongly opposes “reward(ing) those who’ve broken the law to get here.”
Scott Rigell (VA-2): “Has yet to see a citizenship proposal he would support,” according to a reporter who spoke to his staff, but wants to “help children.”
CW “Bill” Young (FL-13): In May, said he was opposed to amnesty but when asked what he wanted to do with the 11 million, said, ‘That issue should be debated at great length and we should try to come up with a fair solution. I don’t know what that fair solution is today.
Paul Cook (CA-8): Has been quiet on immigration reform.
David Valadao (CA-21): Supports a path to citizenship.
Devin Nunes (CA-22): Supports a path to citizenship.
Ed Royce (CA-39): Says a “pathway to an earned legal status for adults” can only be discussed once the border is secure and employer verification is implemented.
Ken Calvert (CA-42): Supports citizenship for DREAMers but NOT anyone else (as of March). Is a cosponsor of the SAFE Act.
Darrell Issa (CA-49): Supports a path to citizenship. Is a cosponsor of the SAFE Act.
Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25): Supports a path to citizenship.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27): Supports a path to citizenship.
Tom Latham (IA-3): Is urging “compassion” for DREAMers but has not voiced support for any specific solution.
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2): Has been quiet on immigration reform. Told a reporter near the end of the August recess that immigration “is a big issue nationally, but in this district it’s just not something on people’s minds.”
John Kline (MN-2): Supports legal status for the undocumented, but is undecided on the question of citizenship: “I think that you have to have a system that takes those people that are in an illegal status and allows them to be in a legal status…There’s an ongoing debate about (citizenship). I’m not sure which way it’s going to go.”
Justin Amash (MI-3): Has been quiet on immigration reform.
Erik Paulsen (MN-3): Told a reporter in July that “Today, I’m not prepared to go that far on the citizenship question” (as to endorse the path in the Senate bill), but emphasized that many of the undocumented contribute to the economy.
Steve Pearce (NM-2): Supports second-class status for all. Is a cosponsor of the SAFE Act.
Blake Farenthold (TX-27): Said in July that “getting to citizenship will be tough, but never say never.” In August, however, his office worked to mobilize opponents of immigration reform for a town hall event.
Pete Sessions (TX-32): Has been quiet on immigration reform. Is a cosponsor of the SAFE Act.
David Reichert (WA-8): Supports a path to citizenship.
Ron DeSantis (FL-6): At a recent town hall, he replied to a mixed-status family who asked if DeSantis would deport the father of their U.S. citizen daughter by saying, “I don’t know her father,” but did not address the question of the undocumented as a general rule. Is a cosponsor of the SAFE Act.
John Culberson (TX-7): “Strenuously” opposed to citizenship for any of the undocumented.
For those who already support a path to citizenship, congratulations. But these members have to know that talk is cheap. When it comes to something as important as immigration reform and family separation, actions are what matter to voters. It’s time for these members to pressure their leadership and colleagues to let citizenship for the 11 million come to a vote. Barring that, they’ll have a lot of explaining to do come election time.
For those on the fence, it’s time to think back to the reason they ran for Congress in the first place—was it to get elected year after year, or to do big things? If the answer is both, then the choice is clear. Come out of hiding on immigration reform, support a reasonable path to citizenship, and make sure the House votes on it this year.
Every trendline is heading in our direction. Republicans can embrace that – or face the consequences (and there will be consequences).