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Immigration Reform – Will it Cross the Finish Line in 2014? in October of this year, President Obama stated “Immigration reform may not pass, but that’s no reason to give up the fight.”

The pro-immigration reform movement has united in a strong front and is the most broad and diverse that we’ve ever observed. The strategic and impassioned outcry from immigration activists are being heard in the hallways of Congress, in state offices across the country, groups fasting for immigration reform, holding prayer vigils, outbursts taking place in the middle of President Obama’s speeches, protestors chaining themselves to gates of federal buildings, and more –  a full court press on the GOP. “The immigration reform movement has emerged as a relentless force that is prepared to hold all parties accountable in 2014,” states Julia Preston in her NY Times article

The Background

In June 2013, the Senate passed their version of Comprehensive Immigration that doesn’t please everyone, but its passage was a victory for those who have been working on the issue for years and watched immigration reform fail many times over. It addresses undocumented immigrants, legal immigration, border security, employer hiring and an entry-exit system so the government knows if foreign nationals leave the country when their visa expires. The path to citizenship is long — 13 years or more — and arduous, but advocates are pleased that it would exist at all, given opposition from many Republicans and the failure of bills to carve out such a path in the past. Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, would be able to earn green cards in five years, as would some agricultural workers. The bill adds huge increases in border security that catered to unsure Democrats and Republicans.

Although 3 out of 4 Americans want Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship, Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican Leadership are using stalling tactics and excuses to block reform from getting a vote on the House floor. There’s been no progress – total gridlock in the House of Representatives, while we’re told repeatedly that they are approaching CIR in a piecemeal manner and that all the individual bills will eventually be rolled into one comprehensive bill.  The president recently commented, If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like.”  We ask, when will his happen?  Sadly, not this year. 

The question is will the Tea Party continue to set the agenda for the House GOP?   Mounting frustration with the Tea Party may lead mainstream Republicans to move forward on immigration reform without them.  In order for the GOP to win Hispanic and Asian voters, it is mandatory that they address the broken immigration system. There has been little to no (and at times incredibly awkward, contradictory and antagonistic) outreach and messaging to the immigrant community by the Republican Party. At this point in time, there is fear that if 11 million are granted citizenship, they’ll vote Democratic.  We will have to see how this continues to play out moving into 2014.

Recently, On December 3, 2013, Speaker John Boehner announced the hiring of Rebecca Tallent to serve as immigration advisor in his office. Tallent worked as a staffer and later as Chief of Staff for Sen. John McCain. She left McCain’s office earlier this year to become the immigration policy director for the Bipartisan Policy Center where she also chaired the organization’s immigration task force.  She’s helped draft amnesty bills for Sen. McCain in the mid-2000s and, in her role at the Bipartisan Policy Center, helped develop an immigration framework that includes amnesty for illegal aliens and massive increases in legal immigration. Her new appointment in Speaker Boehner’s office does send a positive signal that he’s laying the ground work to pass massive immigration reforms in 2014.  However, NumbersUSA President Roy Beck said. “His new hire has done almost nothing the last decade except work for giant increases in foreign labor. But Boehner still has to persuade at least 118 Republican House Members that their constituents would be okay with an expansion of immigration.  We are hopeful that the appointment of Rebecca Tallent will play an essential role in lifting immigration reform over the finish line in early 2014.

More reading…

Video:  “Congress Fails to Tackle Immigration Reform”

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