Democrats Give Up on Immigration Reform This Congress
Congressional Democrats who have been pushing for a comprehensive immigration bill to match what the Senate passed a year ago have officially given up.
At a press conference today Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, marked the anniversary with a news conference blasting Republicans for "insulting Hispanics" and refusing to allow a vote on immigration reform in the House.
"No one was willing to work more closely with Republicans and has wanted to start more legislation with them than I. We gave a day, July 4th. It's here. It hasn't happened," he said today. Gutierrez says he is now turning his attention to the White House, in hopes the president will unilaterally stop deporting undocumented immigrants. "It's time for the president of the United States to come and help build our community."
Immigration advocates stood with the Illinois congressman today.
"I think that the point that we really want to make clear here for the many organizations who come together for every political stripe from silicon valley to the farm valley is that reform is coming," Clarissa Martina De Castro of the national council of La Reza said at the press conference. "And Republicans can choose to be part of the solution or fully own the problem."
"Republicans may be toying with political suicide and turning their backs on us. But they do not control our calendar," Mehrdad Azemun of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement said at the press conference. "And they will not quench our thirst for justice. Our families will stay at this until there are no more fathers, no more mothers, no more children in fear of being separated. This fight is bigger than politics and we will win."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed House Republicans for the year of inaction.
"House Republicans have done nothing for the last 365 days," Reid, D-Nev., charged. "They claim to be working on jobs bills, and legislation to reduce the deficit. The fact is that the Senate-passed immigration bill reduces the deficit and spurs the economy more than all the House bills currently awaiting Senate action combined."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, implored House Speaker John Boehner to schedule a vote.
"Bring a bill to the floor," Pelosi, D-California, urged. "Give us a vote."
But barring a sudden change of heart, Republicans are likely to watch the bill expire at the end of the year with the conclusion of this session of Congress.
"Republicans in the House have a choice: allow a vote on commonsense immigration reform in July, or be the ones to blame for killing it," Reid added. "Americans wants us to fix this nation's broken immigration system, so let's do that now."
For Gutierrez and many pro-reform activists even though they'd prefer a bipartisan bill today, if they lose the fight this term, the war, they warn, isn't over.
"If we don't win now, we will go back, we will register, we will naturalize people, we will the election in 2016. We will take the house, the senate and we will craft our own bill," he said.
This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Mehrdad Azemun's name.