Immigration Reform Groups Resume Fight

Seung Min Kim, Politico, October 21, 2013

With the brutal fiscal fight now in Capitol Hill’s rearview mirror, immigration reform advocates from across the spectrum are ramping up the pressure on lawmakers to pass a far-reaching overhaul this year.

The more aggressive wing of the immigration reform community is launching a “week of escalation” that will target the top three House GOP leaders and roughly two dozen other Republican lawmakers. Their goal is a vote on immigration reform this year. And the Evangelical Immigration Table is releasing a letter Monday signed by top faith leaders—a missive that comes amid a nationwide prayer blitz for reform.

There’s a glimmer of hope that the House will pass immigration reform this year, but after the shutdown’s end, it’s faint at best. Although the Senate passed comprehensive reform in June, most House Republicans remain highly skeptical of such sweeping overhauls, and there’s no indication that chamber will move its own package of reform bills anytime soon.

Nonetheless, advocates are resuming the fight.

“The dynamics on this are very different than what we saw on the fiscal issue,” said Ali Noorani, who leads the pro-reform National Immigration Forum. “We’re seeing this groundswell of support for reform from the right; . . . we don’t see that groundswell from both sides of the spectrum on any other issue.”

In a new letter, the Evangelical Immigration Table urges the House to continue working on immigration and take up reform that includes a pathway to legalization or citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. {snip}

“The work the House has done on immigration reform thus far is commendable,” reads the letter from the Evangelical Immigration Table, which has convened more than 40 major prayer gatherings and roughly 400 smaller ones scattered throughout 40 states.

Meanwhile, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, an umbrella organization for an array of immigration rights groups nationwide, wants to intensify the pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as well as 26 Republicans who represent areas with a significant population of Latino and Asian voters. The so-called escalation events will focus on pushing the lawmakers for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform through visits to their Washington and district offices.

“You should expect to see more escalations and more … civil acts of disobedience,” said Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the coalition, who added that activities will also be planned for November. {snip}

Meanwhile, Noorani’s Forum is involved in organizing an event Oct. 28-29 during which more than 300 conservative backers of immigration reform will press lawmakers on the need to take up a comprehensive overhaul. They come from more than 50 congressional districts, and among the major GOP-friendly groups involved in the effort are the Partnership for a New American Economy, a pro-reform coalition headed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and, the advocacy organization founded by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, according to Alex Katz, a spokesman for Bloomberg’s group.


The official word from House Republican leadership is that the chamber still has immigration reform on its agenda, with Boehner spokesman Michael Steel saying the speaker “remains committed to a step-by-step process to fix our broken immigration system.”

But Republicans privately and publicly say their already testy relations with President Barack Obama have been poisoned by the rancorous fiscal battle, which ended with a major capitulation from congressional Republicans. Labrador, a conservative backer of immigration reform, encapsulated that thinking at a recent forum when he said it would be “crazy” for House Republicans to negotiate with Obama after the grueling past few weeks.

“The president’s attitude and actions over the past few weeks have certainly made getting anything done on immigration considerably harder,” a senior congressional Republican aide said in an email.


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