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Well, there's one way to draw attention to your cause and that's with some good old-fashioned civil disobedience. So hats off to some of the most prominent folks in the pro-immigration movement who got arrested today in the cause of promoting fair immigration reforms. Of the 40 people arrested are Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union and Frank Sharry of America's Voice. Several DREAM activists were also arrested in the protest. The overriding message of the protest was aimed at the House and activists are demanding a vote on the Senate's immigration bill. To date, Speaker Boehner is refusing to bring the bill up even though many believe the measure would pass in the House.
The US Congress will begin its summer recess tomorrow. Like schoolchildren, they take much of the summer off. This year's promised Comprehensive Immigration Reform has now been tabled until after they return in September.
The Senate has done its job. It passed a bi-partisan immigration bill by a healthy margin, which included both good and bad things for the healthcare industry.
The Republican-controlled House has stalled. The lower-level House Judiciary Committee has passed a small business based immigration bill, the SKILLS Act. Will the full House move on a bigger Comprehensive bill in September?
Some see hopeful signs. Immigrants and employers are pressing their concerns directly to House members, who have returned to their home districts for the Summer Recess. Some Republicans leaders, such as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and one-time Vice Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan (R-WI) reportedly have been working behind the scenes to encourage colleagues to produce a bill.
Hopeful these efforts can lead to a productive autumn.
Read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at www.musillo.com or www.ilw.com. You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
There are two views about whether immigration reform is dead in the House of Representatives. I will start with the optimistic one, as set forth in a July 31 article by Dan Nowicki in the Arizona Republic: Immigration reform backers see hopeful signs in House.
(Sorry, I do not have a link. It can be found easily through Google.)
This article gives the following reasons for optimism, despite the hostility that House Republicans are showing toward the Senate CIR bill, S.744.
First, immigration supporters will use the August recess to put renewed pressure on House members for reform. Of course, opponents will be going into action too.
As an article quoted in my July 31 post mentioned, House members are anxious not to be screamed at during August town hall meetings. No doubt, many of them will. The Tea Party is not exactly overlooking this issue, in its mainly older white members know how to scream - especially at Latino, Asian and Black immigrants.
To use another analogy from Jewish folklore (see my July 30 post) many of the big business groups that were instrumental in creating the Tea Party in the first place in order to give a fake grassroots image to a campaign by the insurance company lobby to bring down the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") are now on the side of the same minorities and the less well off, whom the ACA was designed to protect regarding health insurance, with respect to immigration reform.
However, the Tea Party has now turned into a Golem on immigration, and just as in the Jewish legend, it is turning against its creators and wreaking havoc with them.
Second, influential House members such as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) have come out in favor of legalization and, possibly, a very limited path to citizenship, for at least some Dreamers and a few others who may be eligible through "regular channels".
This, it is hoped, may at least form a basis for negotiations with the Senate about a final bill which could pass both Houses.
Third, Boehner and other House Republican leaders have spoken out against Iowa Republican Representative Steve King's vile accusation that many Dreamers were "drug mules". But they have not removed him from an immigration subcommittee where he still sits. Nor have they censured him, which should be the very least action taken against him.
Finally, the Arizona Republic article cites Tamar Jacoby, the highly respected reform advocate and leader of a coalition of pro-reform business groups, as being optimistic about reform. But in her position, Jacoby arguably has no choice but to sound optimistic, and quoting her has at least some resemblance to entering the echo chamber.
Now for the pessimistic view, as decribed by California freelance journalist Eli Wolfe in the July 30 Politics (not to be confused with POLITICO).
In his article: Immigration Reform 2013: Why It Died and When It's Coming Back, Wolfe zeros in on the main reason that immigration reform is in such deep trouble in the House:
(I am again sorry that the blog system does not post this link correctly, so Google is once again recommended to access this article too.)
"But if Republicans need long-term changes in their immigration policies to remain competitive in the Latino population, they have little to gain from immigration reform in the short term. An analysis written earlier this year by Nate Silver noted that of the 232 Congressional Districts controlled by Republicans, a mere 40 have populations that are more than 20% Hispanic and only 16 of these are at least a third Hispanic, which means few Representatives have a serious reason to push for reform that is not necessarily popular with a majority of their constituents."
Wolfe's conclusion is:
"With stiff resistance in the House, a speaker who doesn't want to risk his job, little political urgency on the right to attract Latinos and the August recess around the corner, the best bet is not to count on a reform bill-comprehensive or otherwise-surfacing until January, when reform measures will most likely be brought to the floor."
And what happens if immigration reform supporters patiently wait until January - when the 2014 mid-term election campaign will already be well under way - and nothing happens for reform then?
It is not unlikely, as Wolfe also suggests in the same article, that the Republicans may wish to postpone the entire immigration issue until after the midterm elections, when they might have hopes of retaking the Senate by a narrow margin, especially since the recent Supreme Court Voting Rights Act decision may make it harder for Latino and other US citizens of color to vote in many states next year.
If reform dies this year, and is not brought back to life soon, what will be the options for reform supporters, and especially for President Obama? Will he sit by passively and let his administration deport another million or so Latino, Asian and Black immigrants during his second term, or will he seek to push his administrative powers to their Constitutional limits in order to accomplish goals that the House Republicans had blocked him from achieving in order to pander to their anti-immigrant white base?
And if the president does test the limits of his authority under the Constitution to protect millions of non-white immigrants from incarceration, deportation and separation from their American citizen children, will he be prepared to risk the possibility - perhaps the likelihood - that anti-immigrant House Republicans will try to impeach him?
If immigration reform dies, President Obama's second term may be an interesting one - for him. and for the future of immigration in America.
Updated 08-01-2013 at 09:18 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
I have been told that 70 women standing in solidarity with the #DREAM9 have joined a two-day hunger strike inside Eloy Detention Center, and the facility has been put on lock-down.
I'll keep you posted as more information becomes available.
Updated 07-31-2013 at 09:30 PM by MKolken
DREAM9er Lizbeth Mateo confirms that she is being held in solitary confinement at the Eloy Detention Center.