Immigration activists aren't taking a recess
August 5th, 2013
11:51 AM ET
8 months ago

Immigration activists aren't taking a recess

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.


Filed under: Congress • Immigration
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. just askin

    why does the democrat party always lined up on the side of criminals and law breakers instead of on the side of uphlding this country's laws? why bother having any laws at all if they are not going to be enforced? obama even refuses to enfocred his signature healthcare plan. why should anybody believe he and the democrats will enforce the tough parts of any new immigration laws? let me guess.... those parts will be delayed, waived, bypassed and ignored. straight to citizenship in time for the next election. this is all a democrat sham.

    August 5, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. sonny chapman

    Again, I pose this question to Repub. Christians=Those Who Try to Follow the Teachings of Jesus,in word & deed,as Found in the Four Gospels: "I was a stranger & you did/did not welcome me". Matthew 25,35.

    August 5, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. PaulCat

    Congress --another vacation for 5 weeks.
    They work so hard. Really, how hard could it be just saying "no" all the time?
    Work 1/4 of the year, on vacation 3/4 of the year, salary $200,000 per year.
    Wow, I'm thinking about running for congress and let you taxers pay me $200,000 for doing nothing. Now this is what I call a dream job!

    August 5, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. Data Driven

    Chamber of Commerce, or the "grass roots"? If I recall, "Tea Party Nation" is not the one funded by the Kochs.

    If money talks, then the COC will get their votes.

    August 5, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. prince

    They are neither criminal or law breakers they USA and to live and enjoy the kind of freedom and liberty that eluded them in their country. You should look at what America stands to gaing in the long-run than immediate implications. Tolerants to immigrants is part of America history. You, Your fathers and great grand parents were once immigrants and it pleases GOD to resettle them here – America GOD's own country. Stop being hostile to immigrants, we are all immigrants on Earth. One day just one day our residendial permit on the surface on will expire. Support immigration reform for the sake of humanity. GOD bless America

    August 5, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. Fred Finegold

    Citizenship should be for immigrates that play by the rules. Don't give citizenship to people that entered our country illegally.

    August 5, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. just sayin

    sonny chapman
    Again, I pose this question to Repub. Christians=Those Who Try to Follow the Teachings of Jesus,in word & deed,as Found in the Four Gospels: "I was a stranger & you did/did not welcome me". Matthew 25,35.
    -–

    the wlecome mat is always placed at the front door, where millions of other people line up and come to this country legally. all true christians know this and follow the laws. to do other wise only encourages lawlessness and criminality.

    August 5, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. rs

    The simple truths are two fold-
    One- we have neither the means nor the dollars to expell or jail 10 million people.The CBO says is is a moneymaker to add them into the economy, or give them legal means to be here. The GOP needs to shut up on their amnesty nonsense- most of these folks don't want citizenship, they want to work, and retire back home. We need the legal means to track, registerand tax them. If they want to become citizens, we need a process. Simple as that. Not fixing immigration means "more of the same", something the GOP claims they don't want, but seem to be alright allowing to happen. Ahh, being post-policy....
    Two- if Republicans fail at Immigration Reform they can kiss goodbye minority votes. If they are cool with that so should the rest of us. Their demographics look pretty bad at this point but it is their call.They should stop saying its racist-especially when they are.

    August 5, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Wake up People!

    @Mallory Archer....
    You and me both!! I have been asking the past 4 years but no one will clue me in. I even heard if you voted for President Obama you got free cable. Now that I could really use....

    Paul Cat, I'm thinking about running for Congress too. Get paid for doing absolutely nothing, long vacations, health care for life!!!

    Vote for me next election, I'm sure I could do a better job than those traitors that now hold office.

    August 5, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    just askin wroteL

    why does the democrat party always lined up on the side of criminals and law breakers instead of on the side of uphlding this country's laws? ... ... ...
    ------------------
    First of all, it is called the Democratic Party, not the democrat party. Conservatives sound woefully misinformed, ignorantly uneducated, and severely judgemental when they refer to the Democratic Party incorrectly. Second, being in this country illegally is not a crime. It is a violation. Illegal parking results in a violation commonly known as a parking ticket.

    August 5, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. rs

    why does the democrat party always lined up on the side of criminals and law breakers instead of on the side of uphlding this country's laws?
    ______________________________
    Ah, the knee-jerk response. We have the greatest number of deportations, EVER; the greatest number of arrests, EVER; the most BP and NG members on the border EVER- and yet you think laws aren't being enforced. Care to cite which ones?

    August 5, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. just askin

    Rudy NYC
    just askin wroteL
    why does the democrat party always lined up on the side of criminals and law breakers instead of on the side of uphlding this country's laws? ... ... ...
    ------
    First of all, it is called the Democratic Party, not the democrat party. Conservatives sound woefully misinformed, ignorantly uneducated, and severely judgemental when they refer to the Democratic Party incorrectly.
    -–

    there is nothing democratic about the leftist democrat party. i refuse to reinforce the lie.

    Second, being in this country illegally is not a crime. It is a violation. Illegal parking results in a violation commonly known as a parking ticket.
    -–

    our immigration laws call for arrest and deportation, not a ticket, not catch and release, not provisional amnesty which obama has illegally granted.

    August 5, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    rs wrote:

    Ah, the knee-jerk response. We have the greatest number of deportations, EVER; the greatest number of arrests, EVER; the most BP and NG members on the border EVER- and yet you think laws aren't being enforced. Care to cite which ones?
    --------------–
    For some folks, just seeing someone at the local supermarket who is "not one of us" means laws are not being enforced.

    August 5, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Richard Long

    So as soon as the Criminal Immigration Amnesty Bill is passed, can we go ahead and legalize Breaking and Entering?

    August 5, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. PJ

    "......a lawyer friend of my father basically bribed a Batitsta official to stamp my passport with an exit permit".
    -Rafael Cruz- on his "trip" to America as told to NPR. (Father of Ted Cruz)
    ---
    Now, who is "always lined up on the side of criminals and lawbreakers.." ??????

    August 5, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. just askin

    rs
    why does the democrat party always lined up on the side of criminals and law breakers instead of on the side of uphlding this country's laws?
    ______________________________
    Ah, the knee-jerk response. We have the greatest number of deportations, EVER; the greatest number of arrests, EVER; the most BP and NG members on the border EVER- and yet you think laws aren't being enforced. Care to cite which ones?
    -–

    they do not arrest and deport all illegals they catch. they refuse to fully enforce the laws. democrats have set up sanctuary cities where illegals can go.

    so my question is this.... even after immigration reform, it is projected that 50-66% of the illegal immigration will still be taking place. are the democrats going to support the full enfocrement of our laws and demand that every illegal caught in this country be arrested and deported? will all of these sanctuary cities be stopped? will they allow local law enforcement to enforce our immigartion laws, just like they enforce our federal drug laws? i early await your answer to these questions.

    August 5, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    just askin wrote:

    there is nothing democratic about the leftist democrat party. i refuse to reinforce the lie.

    Second, being in this country illegally is not a crime. It is a violation. Illegal parking results in a violation commonly known as a parking ticket.
    -–

    our immigration laws call for arrest and deportation, not a ticket, not catch and release, not provisional amnesty which obama has illegally granted.
    ------------------
    Sorry, it's a violation. Being taken into custody and subsequently deported is the justice for the violation. As for using the term "democrat party", please, continue as you were. If you wish to sound like "Biff" from "Back to the Future" that's your business.

    August 5, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. Gurgyl

    Stop citizenship just because of kid is being born here–make sure either of the parents must be USA citizen nonetheless kids birth here. Ok. Tighten immigration. These guys are robbing our benefits. See NJ area.

    August 5, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. truth hurts but reality bites

    The government simply refuses to enforce our current immigration laws. Why should the American people believe that they will enforce any new immigration laws? This is not the first go around for these laws. If the current laws were enforced, we should not even be having this conversation as there would nto be any significant number of illegals in the USA.

    Even if we pass new laws, we'll still be having this conversation again in 10 years as we have another 10 million illegals here as they will have figured out we are not serious about enforcing our immigration laws. We don't need new laws. We need new people in office that are willing to do their job and enforce the laws already on the books. Democrats ned to stop lying to the American people and start agreeing that all of our laws need to be enforced, and not ignored.

    August 5, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Borderless

    Dear World,

    The United States is not unique. Just like every other country in the world, citizenship here is a privilege, not a right. We welcome you to take legal steps toward citizenship. We ask only that you abide by our laws and contribute positively to our nation. Just like every other nation in the world.

    August 5, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. just askin

    Rudy NYC
    Sorry, it's a violation. Being taken into custody and subsequently deported is the justice for the violation.
    --–

    again so why doesn't the federal government arrest and deport all of the illegal aliens it catches? why are thousands and thousands released, many several times? why are there illegal aliens in this country committing crimes and killing american citizens with dui offenses? until all of our immigration laws are enfocred 100% of the time, we will always have an illegal immigration problem. that is the bottomline you cannot refute.

    August 5, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Rick McDaniel

    The reason CA is broke........is they have catered to illegals for decades........with the Dems there, using hand outs to illegals to keep them voting Dem.......and keeping power in CA entirely in the hands of Dems.

    It is corruption personified.......and no one in the Republican Party should be promoting legalization of illegals..........not in ANY way.

    August 5, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |