Immigration activists aren't taking a recess
August 2nd, 2013
11:30 AM ET
12 months ago

Immigration activists aren't taking a recess

Washington (CNN) – From staging rallies to mounting a caravan through California to setting up phone banks to more private lobbying activists on all sides of the immigration issue are vowing a month of activities to try to push members of Congress and the public over immigration reform during the coming congressional recess.

A coalition called the Alliance for Citizenship, comprised of groups ranging from the AFL-CIO to the Service Employees International Union to La Raza and other Hispanic groups, will stage about 300 events across the country during August to push the House to also pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is calling its effort "Immigration Reform Summer."

"If our communities pull together in August and continue to press their representative, those stonewalling progress will have no choice but to let us fix our nation's broken immigration system and take a vote on comprehensive reform when we get back to DC," Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said in a statement.

The coalition is sponsoring a caravan through California on Aug. 14th ending in Bakersfield, California, home of the third-ranking Republican in the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy. "This road to freedom…to citizenship…to equality goes through Bakersfield," reads one of its flyers promoting the event. Planners are hoping for thousands of activists to show up there for a rally and march to his office there.

Groups also are staging their own events trying to pressure members of Congress, including the AFL-CIO which will be holding phone banks and rallies and the National Education Association which will be sponsoring a day of action next week.

The push will get a major public show of support next week when a group founded by leading business executives, including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft's Bill Gates, host a screening of a film called "Documented." It highlights the journey of 1.4 million "Dreamers," who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Zuckerberg is going to speak at the event.

Democratic Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Dick Durbin of Illinois on Friday are holding a forum in the Iowa home district Republican Rep. Steve King – one of the staunchest opponents of immigration reform. The event is expected to include immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

One of the leading Democratic advocates in the House Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, is planning do a series of town halls during the recess to build support and may even do events with Republican members.

House Republicans, meanwhile, are being urged to focus on health care repeal and stopping government abuse while they are at home during the recess – and not emphasize immigration reform according to GOP aides. If members are asked about the immigration issue, they are being urged to talk about the “step by step” approach that leaders are taking.

Polls show a majority of Americans support the immigration bill passed by the Senate last month that included a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million in the U.S. illegally.

How much persuasion these efforts will carry is not clear because they will be focused on House Republicans and swaying them. These members are not natural allies of big labor and some of the other groups pushing for support of comprehensive reform. Organizers will focus on the number of union members in these districts and also emphasize how some of these districts have major Hispanic populations which could be crucial politically in coming elections.

Conservative groups opposed to comprehensive immigration reform will also try to use their influence to push lawmakers.

A prominent tea party group, Tea Party Nation, is gearing up to mobilize its members. "We are working on getting our activists out to town hall meetings and one-on-one meetings with their congressmen during the recess. Big rallies will do nothing to change Congress' mind on amnesty. The only thing that will change their minds is to hear it from the voters," Judson Phillips, the group's founder, told CNN. Tea Party Nation has about 80,000 members Phillips said.

The group NumbersUSA, which opposed the Senate bill, says it will be active throughout the recess, especially helping some of its two million members attend various town halls with Republican members of Congress. Its executive director, Roy Beck, told CNN he thinks more pressure is on the pro-reform forces to help move the issue. “For us it’s more of a matter of making sure members of Congress...are hearing from the grassroots,” Beck said. Earlier this week the group held a teletown hall to help plan its activities during the recess, and Beck said almost 59,000 members participated.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, a key opponent of the Senate measure, will be participating in public events, constituent meetings and local media interviews to argue there would be more pressure on the government if that bill became law because the amount of foreign workers who would be able to get visas to work in the U.S. would increase.

There is not a clear consensus on the conservative side regarding immigration. Some conservative groups support the idea in varying degrees. Also some conservative groups during the recess will be focusing their attention on Obamacare since opposing it is so popular with their supporters.

A lot of the activity will not be public.

The Chamber of Commerce, for example, says it will be engaging in about 60 events and meetings scheduled over the recess, but they will not be open to press coverage.

"We will have representatives of the business community across the country telling the story about why immigration reform is important from an economic and business perspective. In addition to hosting events and meetings with legislators and their staff, we will continue to engage our membership and activate our state and local chambers in the field to mobilize in support of continued progress in the House," Blair Latoff Holmes, senior director for communications for the Chamber, told CNN.

The Chamber has not ruled out running some ads during the recess.

– CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • Immigration
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Chamber of commerce? What a conservative laden bunch.
    Maybe if these activists were walking around with 75 pounds of marijuana and had cantaloupe calves they would pay more attention to them. Just ask king from Iowa.

    August 2, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. wild man

    if publicly paid elected officials did there job there we wouldn't be having this debate but the country has been run by corrupt liars both republican and democrat for a long time. i mean does anyone with a brain believe that a country that plays world police and can military forces on the ground anywhere in the world in seconds can't protect it's own boarders. use your heads think for yourselves get your news from other sources

    August 2, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Gunderson

    So Sorry,
    The Amnesty thing was settled back about 7 years ago. The people said no in public and hell no in private! For those that want to become ctizens there is a path. The sooner you get on it the sooner you will become a citizen. Not sure of all the requirments but who said sucess was easy. Give Amnesty to this bunch and another bunch will show up, demanding Amnesty. Sorry no. You can march all you want to, it isn't happening. Return to your own country and get in line.

    August 2, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Data Driven

    LOL at the "canteloupe calves" reference, Marie.

    What we're seeing here is a push more organized than usual, not since the Chavez era, in fact, and I think it will have an impact. The days of wary silence from Latinos is over.

    August 2, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  5. plain&simple

    So the tea /me party believes " big rallies will do nothing to change congress's mind"??? Really? What those people don't vote? Or are they all illegal trying to take away your job or money?....How do you reason with unreasonable people who believe they own the market on what's right? You vote them out!!!

    August 2, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    Attention "Christian" opponents of Immigration Reform: Jesus said,"I was a stranger and you did/did not welcome me". Matthew 25,35.

    August 2, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Mickey1313

    With our outragous unemployment, we should have immigration reform, get rid of it. End immigration into this country unless they have qualified skills. Also we should boot out all illigals. It would be easy, simply pass a law that band all illigals, no bank accounts no drivers license, no leases no nothing. Make the violating company accountable, and sentence offenders to 20 years hard labor, problem solved. If politicians cared about results rather than the mexican vote, we could be a much better country.

    August 2, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. just sayin

    sonny chapman
    Attention "Christian" opponents of Immigration Reform: Jesus said,"I was a stranger and you did/did not welcome me". Matthew 25,35.
    -–

    we do welcome people... at the front door. what did jesus say about criminals breaking in through the back door? i think it was something like, please follow the law and don't be criminals.

    August 2, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Donna

    Isn't America a wonderful place? A place where millions of people knowingly violate our laws and then demand citizenship and other special treatment. Yes, America, the land of the free (or is it free loaders?) and the home of the brave (or is it home of the suckers?).

    August 2, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. ST

    Good job "Activists". Keep the heat on. If no one listens, carry it through to 2014 mid-term elections, they will feel the heat there.

    August 2, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    "If our communities pull together in August and continue to press their representative, those stonewalling progress will have no choice but to let us fix our nation's broken immigration system and take a vote on comprehensive reform when we get back to DC," Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said in a statement."

    Good for them. At least someone is willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in. Our Republican controlled House of Representatives? Not so much. For the majority of them anyway. Those Representatives who DO want the process to continue? They haven't a leg to stand on while Cantor and Boehner are in charge of scheduling and such.

    August 2, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    Isn't America a wonderful place? A place where millions of people knowingly violate our laws and then demand citizenship and other special treatment. Yes, America, the land of the free (or is it free loaders?) and the home of the brave (or is it home of the suckers?).
    ------------
    Okay, let's do it your way. Which is.....? OH, yeah. How much would it cost? And, how long would it take?

    August 2, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    I bet not one person posting here about deport all illegals is Native American. That means your ancestors were illegals at one time also. Too bad no one shipped their sl@ve owning butts back to Europe.

    Had that been the case maybe my ancestors would have been free sooner.

    August 2, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. sonny chapman

    just sayin -interpret the words of Jesus at your own peril. He did say,"I did not come to judge you, but to save you. You will be judged by the WORD. And every word that I have spoken is not my own, but comes from the Father". John 12,47.

    August 2, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. chivana

    The current immigration system isn't convenient, nor cater to those groups who consider themselves "special. " The current immigration system works fine for close to one million immigrates per year, those with the willingness to submit past criminal, medical history and the promise not to be wards of the state. Yes there's mountains of paperwork, interviews and sums of money but those with the drive to become legal US citizens continue to overcome

    August 2, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. I'm NOT a liberal

    PC headlines are a joke.

    August 2, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Fred Finegold

    American citizenship for those that enter this country legally. Deport the illegals and their anchor babies.

    August 2, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Just a thought

    Mickey1313

    With our outragous unemployment, we should have immigration reform, get rid of it. End immigration into this country unless they have qualified skills. Also we should boot out all illigals. It would be easy, simply pass a law that band all illigals, no
    -----–
    Well, alot of the kids of these folks can actually spell "illegal" correctly...does that qualify them in your estimation?

    August 2, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Just a thought

    Mickey1313

    With our outragous unemployment, we should have immigration reform, get rid of it. End immigration into this country unless they have qualified skills. Also we should boot out all illigals. It would be easy, simply pass a law that band all illigals, no

    ------–
    So should we make spelling the word "illegal" correctly part of an english competency test in order to qualify for citizenship?

    August 2, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. RIchard Long

    Legalize Breaking and Entering!!!
    If criminal immigrants are allowed to freely cross the boarder into the US, then why can't I freely come into your house and do as I please?

    August 2, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Fred Finegold wrote:

    American citizenship for those that enter this country legally. Deport the illegals and their anchor babies.
    -------------------
    1. Most of the people in this country illegally entered it legally: i.e. overstaying visas.
    2. How do we deport all of them? At what cost? How long would it take? How do you find them all? Many questions need to be answered. How come no one on the right even addresses these questions. They just pretend the questions don't exist.

    August 2, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Donna

    Rudy NYC
    Donna
    Isn't America a wonderful place? A place where millions of people knowingly violate our laws and then demand citizenship and other special treatment. Yes, America, the land of the free (or is it free loaders?) and the home of the brave (or is it home of the suckers?).
    ----
    Okay, let's do it your way. Which is.....? OH, yeah. How much would it cost? And, how long would it take?
    ----

    How much is our safety and sovereignty worth? Do you expect the USA to be the only country on the planet that does not enforce and defend its borders? Is the the PRIME responsibility of the federal government? The cost is whatever it takes. All of that cost are the FIRST dollars that this country spends with other money being spent on lesser priorities. Besides, this cost is simply the money that the federal government has refused to spend for the last 4,5,10 decades. It is now time for the federal government to actually start doing its job, fulfilling their oath of office to protect and defend this country. (instead of suing and attacking others that have taken up the duty that they have refused to perform!)

    How long? Never, if we refuse to even get started doing it. It will get done faster if the Democrats and liberals start putting their country's sovereignty over their leftist political agenda.

    This is not rocket science. The problem is the leftists in this country that would rather see it destroyed than its laws enforced.

    August 2, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Real protests,not the Koch brothers astroturf fake types used to lie about the healthcare law.

    August 2, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. Data Driven

    Yeah, yeah, blah blah - I'd like to read from some of the conservatives here how this issue has even INDIRECTLY impacted your lives. Heck, feel free to invent a good story. Cuz so far, it just appears that only rank racism is actuating your comments, I.e., they're all criminals, etc. If you feel so strongly about it, why not "self-deport" yourselves back to Europe from whence your ancestors came?

    August 2, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Just a thought

    RIchard Long

    Legalize Breaking and Entering!!!
    If criminal immigrants are allowed to freely cross the boarder into the US, then why can't I freely come into your house and do as I please?
    -----
    and what part of "free" is paying thirteen years of back taxes equate to? my take is you have no idea what you are talking about ....but rather you enjoy see your faux news talking points in print...congrats , mission accomplished excluding any facet of the bill before the house today.

    August 2, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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