Washington (CNN) – Several dozen town halls featuring Republican members of Congress will be one of the focuses this week for advocates pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, as well as those who will strongly fight to prevent it from passing the House this fall.
Proponents of an immigration overhaul got started in late July in pushing their message, even before the congressional recess officially started on Friday. Now these activists will be aggressively ramping up their efforts staging hundreds of events in the next month – from rallies to canvassing businesses to phone banking – with a focus on Republican members trying to push them and the public to support the issue.
There will also be citizenship swearing-in ceremonies to help highlight the potential power of the Latino community.
A broad coalition called the Alliance for Citizenship, comprised of more than 60 groups ranging from the AFL-CIO to the Service Employees International Union to National Council of La Raza and other liberal activist groups, will stage about 300 events in 52 congressional districts in an effort it’s calling "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.
One of the coalition's major events will be a caravan through California on August 14 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 fliers promoting the event. Planners are hoping for thousands of activists to show up there for a rally and march to his office.
Groups ranging from unions to business to faith-based organizations also are staging their own events with a lot of the focus on building support for a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. The AFL-CIO will sponsor phone banks and rallies while the advocacy group Organizing For Action, the successor to President Obama's campaign apparatus, will hold events in communities across the nation. PICO National Network, one of the nation's largest grassroots faith-based organizations, has launched a month-long initiative to put pressure on GOP lawmakers. PICO is focusing on 30 districts in 12 states.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will take a leading public role on Monday for the push. A group founded by leading business executives, including Zuckerberg and Microsoft's Bill Gates, will 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 will make a rare public speech when he speaks at the event.
One of the leading Democratic advocates in the House, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, is planning to do a series of town halls during the recess 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 undocumented immigrants.
How much persuasion these efforts will carry is not clear because they’ll be focused on swaying House Republicans. 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 that 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. Last 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 participate 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.