This week we told you about a House Republican video celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month that got some unintended blowback from viewers. Many were unhappy that the GOP has not supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a key issue for many Latino voters.
Now comes the parody, courtesy of OneMiamiNow, a group in South Florida that advocates for education, jobs and health care.
Subhash Kateel, a spokesman for the group, said the inspiration came out of a reaction of "outrage" among a coalition of advocacy groups that saw the House video and passed it around via e-mail and social media. The parody video takes particular aim at the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (SAFE), approved by a House committee, which would impose Arizona-style regulations allowing authorities to use broader methods to enforce immigration laws. Some advocates fear that such methods could lead to racial profiling and other abuses.
"We're really frustrated by a lack of movement in the House on immigration reform," Kateel said. "Specifically, they are supporting really bad immigration bills like the Safe Act but not a path to citizenship. They're giving it a lot of lip service when you see something like the Heritage Month ad talking about the contributions Hispanics have made to American society, but these are the exact same people who invoke the Hastert Rule on immigration. A lot of South Florida immigrant rights leaders are really upset about that."
Kateel was referring to the rule named after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), who limited the power of the minority party by refusing to bring legislation to the floor without support of the majority of the party in power. Advocates believe that a Senate-approved immigration plan that includes a 13-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would pass the House with the support of most Democrats and some Republicans, but House leaders have refused to allow a vote on that bill.
House aides dismissed the criticism of the GOP's Hispanic Heritage Month video, emphasizing that the production was just one piece of a multi-pronged strategy aimed at improving the party's appeal with Latino voters. House leaders, including GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Ore.), held a "meet up" with about 70 Latino leaders on Thursday, during which they discussed the economy, health care and immigration.
Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which is overseeing most of the immigration bills, told the audience that immigration reform is not dead and noted that House committees have approved four immigration-related bills and are working on four more.
He said he supports offering young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children legal status and a path to citizenship. For other undocumented immigrants, Goodlatte proposed giving them legal status and allowing them to pursue citizenship through existing channels, such as petitioning on family grounds or through their employers.
Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles who moderated the discussion, said he believes House Republicans are sincere in their pledge to move forward on an immigration package.
"The House Republicans remain committed to getting it done this Congress," Aguilar said. "They did not specify by the end of the year or in January or February. They were clear they were going to do it at their own pace."