Pressure is ratcheting up from the right, left and center for the House of Representatives to move forward on immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The only thing missing is the scheduling of votes on the House floor by Republican leadership.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
What more do House Republican leaders need to see and hear in order to set a date and move forward on a vote? Immigration reform with a path to citizenship would pass today in the House of Representatives if Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) brought it up for a vote. It enjoys strong majority support from the public, strong majority support from Republicans and strong support from numerous Republican constituencies. It is good for the country, good for the economy and good for the political future of the GOP. Finally, it is essential for a number of vulnerable incumbents.
See below for how pressure is building on House Republicans:
- Political donors from both parties to hold immigration reform opponents accountable: Last week, Laura Meckler wrote in the Wall Street Journal that leading business-affiliated Republican donors are growing frustrated with the House Republican slow-walk on immigration, with some “withholding political contributions from members of Congress who don’t support action on immigration” and many “calling top House leaders” to urge action on reform. Yesterday, the Washington Post described the formation of a Democratic donor effort, the Latino Victory Project. As the Post described, the group is “focused on a new campaign: an effort to oust lawmakers who stand in the way of overhauling immigration laws” and is “planning to spend as much as $20 million on campaigns targeting members of Congress who have sizable Latino communities in their districts but oppose comprehensive immigration reform.”
- Conservative pro-reform leaders ratchet up pressure on House Republicans: Conservative constituencies – including business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and evangelical leaders – are engaged in a lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill this week in support of the House moving forward on immigration reform with a path to citizenship. As the New York Times noted, “A push to bring immigration legislation to the House floor, led by an unusual coalition of business executives, prominent conservatives and evangelical leaders, threatens to create another schism in the Republican Party and could have a noticeable effect on campaign contributions before the midterm elections.” In light of this pressure, even anti-immigrant leader Roy Beck of Numbers USA admitted, “There is the potential this could shift some support” in the House.
- House Republicans lean into immigration reform and call for House vote: On yesterday’s “Al Punto” show on Univisión, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) announced that he will become the first Republican to co-sponsor HR 15, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (legislation that is a bipartisan approach to immigration reform, with every provision having attracted support from Democrats and Republicans in the Senate or the House). As we noted, Rep. Denham’s announcement is a major crack in the dam that has been blocking reform from passing the House. While Rep. Denham is the first co-sponsor of HR15, other Republican colleagues from Latino-heavy states may well join him.Last Friday, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) stepped up to pressure his own leadership for action. He issued a press statement stating, “There is a clear, bipartisan consensus among House members that immigration reform is the right thing to do both for people in this country and for our economy…I will continue to urge the House leadership to move forward on immigration reform with all possible haste.”Additionally, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) has become the 29th House Republican to voice public support for immigration reform with a path to citizenship. According to the Arizona Republic, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said, “I’m one of those that does not believe that people having been in this country… illegally now should be barred from that path to citizenship because we have not enforced the law…I’d like to see a single pathway to citizenship for everyone, that no one would be blocked from, unless they do something criminal…” Rep. Franks also noted, “I believe the issue will come to the floor and I support bringing it to the floor…We are meeting one to two times a week, and I can tell you that there is a plan to bring immigration to the floor.”
- Cold hard fact: To date, the only immigration action that has taken place on the House floor this year is a vote on a Steve King amendment to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and subject DREAMers to deportation: As National Journal’s Scott Bland tweeted after Rep. Heck issued his statement, “The longer House Rs wait on immigration, the longer Joe Heck et al have defunding deferred action as signature vote.” This is a crucial point – despite all the pro-reform rhetoric, the only actual floor vote taken by the House regarding immigration has been the amendment authored by anti-immigrant extremist Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to subject DREAMers to deportation. Only six House Republicans voted against the amendment. If the GOP wants to present a new side to voters in 2014, it’s going to need a new vote to stand on.
If Steve King got a vote on immigration, then Jeff Denham and the majority in the House supporting sensible reform deserve one as well. It’s up to House Republican leadership – the pro-reform movement won’t stop or go away until we get our vote and pass immigration reform.