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Congress Pulls Back On Immigration Reform

1355801620rwjma.jpgProponents of immigration reform have known for quite some time that this year is critical for immigration reform because of next year’s midterm election liabilities for Republicans that would sign on to any comprehensive overhaul. That’s why advocates of comprehensive immigration reform are staging events throughout Washington during September and October. They are even demonstrating outside the D.C. offices of corporations that contribute big money to Republicans and are thought to have influence over them concerning immigration reform. On October 5, activists are slated to hold rallies in more than 60 other cities to bring greater pressure on Congress to act.

The Alliance for Citizenship, which includes many groups from across the political spectrum, says that members have participated in 1,200 events nationwide while the Evangelical Immigration Table, a group of conservative religious leaders, has spent over $400,000 in advertising on Christian radio stations. Activists report that two dozen Republicans have expressed public support for immigration reform. This might seem like a victory given the fact that Republican leaders all but forbade members from engaging constituents on the topic during the summer – but the fact remains that it is unclear whetherCongress will do anything as it relates to immigration reform before the end of the year.

The welcome back memo from Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the House “may begin considering” a series of bills a committee has already passed. It’s important to note, however, that none of these bills include a path to citizenship, which is the primary victory activists are seeking.

What’s more, timing is presenting a threat to further progress. The House takes a five-day break beginning on Sept. 23. Prior to the break, all eyes are focused on the federal budget, which is set to expire on September 30th. In October, Congress will yet again attempt to deal with the debt ceiling. And presently, the Syrian crisis is also detracting attention away from the topic of immigration reform. In fact, the Syria crisis threatens to make immigration reform even more of an afterthought.

Tom Snyder, manager of the AFL-CIO’s immigration reform campaign, says that if Congress uses the ‘crowded calendar’ excuse for failing to act on immigration reform, it is a “complete cop-out. If they want to act, they can act. They can find time on the calendar.”

Activists continue to plan other immigration reform events for October to press a vote for this fall.

Clearly, immigration reform is a hot topic for many groups and individuals around the country. Will demonstrations have any effect on getting Congress to act in the midst of the Syrian crisis, the budget issue or a debt ceiling that is spiraling out of control? According to Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican working on a reform proposal, the prospects for such a vote have about a 5 per cent chance that a bill will be passed by year-end. This certainly doesn’t bode well for advocates of immigration reform. At this point, we will have to wait to see whether grass roots pressure has any affect on Congress’s timeline and actions.

As a long time immigration attorney, it’s my hope that Congress and our leadership in Washington realize how important immigration reform is, and that it doesn’t continue to take a back seat to other issues that they deem as more pressing.

Based in Austin, TX, Lyttle Law Firm practices exclusively in the areas of immigration and family law. Should you need to speak to an attorney about your unique situation, call us today at (512) 215-5225.