Participants acknowledge that with such a broad coalition, there could be disagreements about the finer points of any eventual legislation. But for now, following Senate approval of a bill that would tighten border security and offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, they agree on their goal: getting the House to act.
“We’re trying to get to the playoffs,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy organization. “We’ve got to win August so we can go into September with momentum.”
House GOP leaders have said they will not support the Senate’s bill. Instead, the House has started work on more limited proposals focused on border security and visas for high-skilled workers and establishing ways for the children of illegal immigrants to seek permanent legal status or citizenship, with a decision expected after the five-week recess on how to proceed on other parts of the debate.
Advocates for comprehensive legislation say they worry that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) will proceed with the more controversial elements of the overhaul only if he has the support of a majority of his Republican members, and they are pressing their case with GOP leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers.
The National Association of Manufacturers, whose members warn about a shortage of skilled labor, unveiled last week what it called “a significant radio ad buy,” with 60-second spots set to run for two to three weeks in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin promoting “common-sense immigration reform” that includes a path to citizenship.
Opponents of this kind of approach are also pressing their case with rallies and ads but acknowledge that they are outgunned by the many forces supporting sweeping immigration change.
“It’s a staggering, well-financed hard push by the left and the right,” said Bob Dane, communications director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates tougher measures to discourage illegal immigration.
Several thousand pro-reform activists from across California are scheduled to converge Wednesday at the Bakersfield office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority whip, as part of a Caravan for Citizenship organized by labor and immigration rights groups, including the United Farm Workers, the AFL-CIO and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.