People are insisting immigration reform is possible this year, but how can that be? Earlier this year I heard Congressman Reichert hopelessly say it looks dead because it’s an election year. That disgusted me to hear the Republican-controlled House cannot pass immigration reform that Speaker Boehner wants to pass.
To my surprise people insist immigration reform is possible this summer. I needed to find out why Reichert said no and others say yes.
I found out. I’m a believer but reformers need to act.
First, why did Reichert say it’s not possible? Because, said columnist David Horsey in the LA Times, the Tea Party is driving the Republican agenda even though their candidates have lost most of their elections in the Republican Primaries.
That’s not a problem says Grover Norquist, the lobbyist who founded the Americans for Tax Reform political action committee (PAC) that holds the pledges from elected officials to oppose any increase in taxes. When asked by a reporter for the LA Times why the Tea Party was absent in the primary elections, he said, “It went to Congress. The Republican Party has largely absorbed the message of the tea party movement.”
Republican Eric Cantor is one Tea Party leader who is blocking reform. “Cantor is the Number 2 Republican in the House and we’re hearing he’s actually the biggest obstacle to immigration reform at the moment,” said Gabe Ortiz, a writer for AMERICAblog, a progressive online journal and America’s Voice, a pro-immigration rights journal.
Conservatives want reform according to a coalition that includes Norquist’s PAC and the Tea Party Express,the largest Tea Party PAC. On May 14 the coalition released a poll of 400 national conservative Republican Tea Party sympathizers that said, “Seventy-one percent said it was important that Congress act on immigration reform this year.”
“Our economy, our security, and our citizens deserve a system that works,” said Sal Russo, co-founder of the Tea Party Express. “Tea Party voters want solutions to the real problems facing America and immigration is no exception.”
Jon Wyss at Gebbers Farms in Okanogan and Volunteer Vice-President of USA Farmers, a national association of farm, agribusiness, ranch and migrant employers, is optimistic. “It’s clear conservatives recognize the need for real reform, and our best chance to pass something is now. I’m thrilled to see national leaders voicing their support for reform.”
The survey also showed voters support the principles for a comprehensive package of bills outlined by Speaker Boehner in January, including border security and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The political breadth of membership in the coalition convinced me Congress may pass reform before it breaks for recess in August and gets consumed in elections.
Even Obama believes reform has a chance now, which is why he delayed plans to alter deportation policies and procedures. He said he’d wait to see what Congress would do this summer before he announces changes.
That was a painful announcement for groups demanding immediate administrative changes, such as Webelongtogether.org, a national campaign to mobilize women for immigration reform and against the deportations “tearing our families and communities apart.”
“We agree that a legislative decision is critical for a long-term solution to this crisis, but millions of women and families cannot wait,” it said.
Obama is sacrificing immediate help for those families. He’s strategizing Republicans will either pass immigration reform because the majority of voters want it, or the Tea Party will create another public political wreck he can use to hammer opponents of reform in the fall elections.
Wyss emailed that Speaker Boehner met with Chalmers Carr, President of USA Farmers on June 2. Carr said the window for reform is still alive for the next four weeks. “We have been able to confirm that Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fl) is working on a bill for those in the country un-authorized and will include provisions for agricultural workers,” said Wyss. Our community would be better off with immigration reform now. Call Representatives Reichert and Hastings to urge reform this summer. And call Cantor at 1-888-778-6856 and demand he support immigration reform now.