The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, reacting to the immigration portions of tonight’s State of the Union address from President Obama, Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) official Republican response, and the Tea Party response delivered by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY):
When a newly re-elected and a newly energized Democratic President, a rising star in the conservative movement and a standard bearer for the Tea Party all agree on immigration reform with a path to citizenship, the prospects for workable and humane reform this year are very good. In fact, one of the few bipartisan standing ovations at the State of the Union was in response to President Obama’s call for immigration reform.
Yet while tonight’s remarks are another sign of the pro-reform momentum that has been building since November’s game-changing elections, the immigration debate is shifting from speechifying to legislating. Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee conducts its first hearing on immigration reform. And before long, votes will be taken. The key questions are as follows: 1) Will Congress enact legislation that includes a clear, direct and inclusive path to citizenship that is unencumbered by unnecessary enforcement conditions? And 2) Will the Republican Party translate the pro-reform rhetoric on display tonight into votes for reform, or continue over the demographic and political cliff?