Speaker John Boehner’s statement on November 13th that the House would not go to conference on the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744) led many in the media to proclaim immigration reform “dead.” Today, I’d like to emphasize that this is not the case and provide you with some updates on what’s going on with immigration reform.
In rejecting working towards a conference, Speaker Boehner indicated that the House was trying to figure out how to move forward on immigration reform using a step-by-step approach. He reassured reporters in a press conference last week saying, “is immigration reform dead? Absolutely not, ” and referred to immigration reform as a “very important issue.” President Obama expressed a similar view just days beforehand, saying that he was not opposed to Congress taking up immigration reform in multiple pieces. He told reporters on November 19, “I don’t care what [immigration reform legislation] looks like, as long as it’s actually delivering on those core values that we talked about.”
On Capitol Hill, here’s what’s going on surrounding immigration reform:
- H.R. 15, essentially the House version of the Senate’s comprehensive bill, has 190 cosponsors, including three Republicans. Three more Republican representatives are rumored to be cosponsoring this legislation soon. A total of 218 votes out of 435 representatives are needed for a bill to pass by simple majority.
- Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is allegedly working on a set of principles to guide the process for the House’s pursuit of a piecemeal approach.
- House Republicans have introduced and passed through committee five bills. However, these bills have yet to be introduced for a vote, and several conflict with LIRS’s principles for reform.
- Several other pieces of legislation have been introduced that touch positively on various aspects of the immigration system, but have not yet made it through committee.
- In addition to these bills, several House Republicans are rumored to be working on different legislation that touches on DREAMers, temporary worker visa programs, and legalization for the 11 million undocumented persons currently living in the United States.
Off Capitol Hill, immigration advocates are actively keeping up momentum for reform:
- On November 14, business, faith and law enforcement leaders held a press conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urging Congress to take action on broad, bipartisan immigration reform in the 113th Congress. The press conference built off the success of the recent Americans for Reform fly-in event in which more than 600 conservative leaders from across the country met with lawmakers and staff from more than 180 congressional offices.
- Several advocacy groups are participating in a Fast for Families on the National Mall calling for immigration reform and citizenship. Various high-profile advocates are fasting until they are no longer physically able. Some members of Congress, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have visited the fasters in their tents. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has even pledged to join the fast. On November 19, Reverend Jesse Jackson led an evening prayer vigil for the fasters.
Get involved to keep the momentum going!
Get educated: Subscribe to receive Stand for Welcome advocacy updates, check LIRS’s “The Update” Monday blog feature for weekly updates on immigration reform prospects, and explore LIRS’s “Learn” tab to learn more about LIRS’s principles for reform. Get active: Contact your representatives by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or use LIRS’s Action Center to send an email to your members of Congress. Mobilize others: Involve your friends and family in your advocacy. If you happen to know anyone whose input may be particularly poignant, such as faith leaders or members of the business or law enforcement communities, make sure to include them in your advocacy efforts.