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Immigration Reform Faces Uphill Battle in House


On Thursday night the Senate passed sweeping immigration reform, the 68 to 32 vote enough to overcome a Republican filibuster.  The legislation, the most "ambitious overhaul of the nation's immigration system in a generation"  was the result of an arduous process of compromise and trade-offs between labor unions, businesses, border security advocates, and immigrant rights groups demanding a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented workers.

The bill now now faces a far-from-certain outcome in the House, where Speaker Boehner has repeatedly indicated he will not bring any form of immigration overhaul legislation up for a vote unless a majority of Republicans support it.   Most Republicans at this time do not support a path to citizenship without a guarantee of a “secure” U.S. Mexican border, and will hold a closed-door meeting on July 10th to determine their path forward.

America's Voice, which advocates for immigration reform in partnership with progressive, faith-based, labor, civil rights, and grassroots groups, on Thursday issued a statement that in the upcoming battle in the House:

“With respect to public opinion, House Republican lawmakers have to choose between a policy that enjoys widespread support from the American people or anti-immigrant views held by a vocal minority on the far right.  Politically, the Republican leadership has to choose between passing reform and sharing credit for doing so or further tarnishing it’s already damaged brand with the fastest growing groups of voters in America.”

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) during a discussion hosted by America's Voice on Tuesday expressed his hope that a strong vote from the Senate would change the dynamics in the House, and will assist House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), in getting any form of immigration reform through.  The Senator asked constituents to keep up the calls and the pressure on their Representatives, indicating that once the bill passed the Senate, "All sights should be turned on to the House."  

Evelyn Rivera, Southeast Representative to United We Dream’s National Coordinating Committee, said that Dream Act provision included in the legislation passed by the Senate is  "the most progressive bill we've ever had."     She cited her organization's success in blocking an age cap for Dream Act benefits, in pushing for a faster track to citizenship of 5 years, and a right to reunite.  She expressed disappointment, however, that Dreamers could not petition to stop deportation of family members.  

Following the Senate vote on Thursday Rivera issued a call to action on the UnitedWeDream website:

“Both parties should be on notice that DREAMers will not accept anything less than justice for our communities and we will not rest until our families are reunited, until a clear and inclusive roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million is written into law and our nation’s out-of-control immigration enforcement agents and militarized border are brought under control.

Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary Treasurer, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), said that for labor unions, “There's no higher priority for labor unions than realizing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers” in part, she said, because “It means that the American-born workers will also have protections”–such as an end to what she called the "wage theft" that occurs when undocumented workers aren't paid fairly.

Anna Galland, Executive Director, said that her organization’s 8 million members are committed to a pathway to citizenship “because it's a human rights issue.”  MoveOn’s open petition site has driven many state and national campaigns related to immigration reforms, and is also calling out bigoted statements made by Senate and House members on a “Wall of Shame.”  Galland said her members are “in the fight, and are in it to win it.”

Become an Advocate:

If you’d like to join the movement calling for a Pathway to Citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented workers:

  • Join the Alliance for Citizenship, a coalition of dozens of organizations with interests ranging from immigrants rights to faith-based/religious to civil rights.
  • Join UnitedWeDream and take action around deferred action, the DREAM Act, and immigration reform for all 11 million dreamers in the U.S.
  • Browse’s Wall of Shame, which unveils racist language used by House members to justify opposition to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, then sign or create a petition, harnessing MoveOn’s 8 million members in a wave of support for reform.
  • Check out America’s Voice, where they keep an updated of resources and actions anyone can take to advocate for immigration reform.