Immigration Advocates Turn Up The Pressure To Pass Reform

When House Republicans go home at the end of this week for the month-long summer recess, they will be greeted by immigration reform supporters who will be “turning up the heat” on their efforts to push for reform.

Members of the Alliance for Citizenship, a coalition of groups pushing for immigration reform, held a press conference Wednesday to announce that they will be targeting 52 congressional districts — a majority of them led by Republicans. At these districts, they’ve organized 360 events aimed at pushing House Republicans to take action on immigration reform.

“This is the beginning of a long, hot summer for a lot of the representatives,” said Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the SEIU.

“Speaker [John] Boehner and Republicans in the House are in for a big surprise during the August recess because we are ready to welcome them when they come home.”

The planned events include everything from phone banking and rallies to registering people to vote and attending town hall meetings where congressional leaders will be asked to publicly support immigration reform legislation with a path to citizenship. It also includes a caravan in California that will target House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, whom advocates see as a “key person” who could influence other House Republicans to stand behind immigration reform.

By the time the summer recess is over and House members return to Capitol Hill, they will be greeted with 500,000 petitions that will be calling on them to take action on immigration reform. So far, the House has taken a slower, piecemeal approach on the issue.

“We will be pounding the drums for immigration reform,” Medina said.

Broad group of immigration reform supporters

Clarissa Martinez, director of civic engagement and immigration for the National Council of La Raza, said she is confident their efforts will lead House members to take action on immigration reform.

She said that confidence stems from knowing that immigration reform supporters come from diverse sectors, including the faith community, business and labor — all of whom plan to double their efforts to push for reform during the August recess.

“Among all the forces that make up the Alliance for Citizenship and the broader set of efforts around this issue, we know we can touch every district out there — rural, urban, north, south, east and west — and that’s why we feel confident,” Martinez said.

“You can’t look at the forces pushing for reform and not notice that every sector of the American society is represented there,” she added.

Martinez said members of the NCLR will target 26 congressional districts, where they’ll be organizing roundtable discussions, in-district visits and phone banking events. She added that more groups will also be mobilizing during the summer recess.

Faith-based leaders mobilize for immigration reform

Among the broad coalition of immigration reform supporters planning events for the August recess are faith-based leaders.

One of those groups is the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. The group has plans for a bus tour, prayer vigils and letter campaigns — all of which are meant to let members of Congress know where the faith-based community stands on immigration reform.

“The message is simple, we have not forgotten our families’ paths to citizenship and neither should you. Action on immigration is not generosity — it is justice,” said Rabbi Jack Moline, a member of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

PICO National Network — the nation’s largest grassroots, faith-based group — has events planned in 30 congressional districts located in 12 different states, with more than 100,000 voters who plan to participate in these events.

Eddie Carmona, campaign manager for PICO’s Campaign for Citizenship, said his group will be “making sure [House members] hear from all the immigrant Americans in their districts and from their families, friends, neighbors and faith communities who are citizens planning to vote in the 2014 election.”

“From Ohio to Colorado and from California to Florida, members of the House who haven’t publicly expressed support for a path to citizenship for all 11 million aspiring Americans will feel the heat from us until they do,” Carmona added.



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