President Obama and the
Congressional Democratic leadership haven’t discussed comprehensive
immigration reform in some time. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid issued a memo last month
signaling immigration wouldn’t be tackled until after the stimulus,
President Obama and the Congressional Democratic leadership haven’t discussed comprehensive immigration reform in some time. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a memo last month signaling immigration wouldn’t be tackled until after the stimulus, housing, health care, energy, education, and accountability measures are debated.
Immigration rights advocates like Rep. Luis Gutierrez are now trying to resort Congress’ priorities. And they’re doing so using a different approach than has been tried in the past: appealing to the humanitarian nature of their fellow citizens. The AP explains:
Latino lawmakers and advocates are taking a new approach to the push for changes in U.S. immigration policy, making a humanitarian appeal to Americans to support fellow citizens who have relatives living in fear of detention and deportation. [...]
“We are going to focus on families and put this in a biblical, moral perspective,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who created the model for the campaign with meetings in Chicago and New York.
The National Family Unity Campaign kicks off officially on Friday in Providence, RI, the first of 17 community meetings at churches in cities nationwide. To get a sense of the atmosphere at these events, check out the video we shot at the Chicago meeting referenced above, which took place on November 15:
The seeds of this campaign go back even further.
Participants in last spring’s May Day marches called for a moratorium on inhumane workplace raids that law enforcement officials have implemented in lieu of structured federal guidelines. “In the last year … the raids and deportations are continuing and hurting our communities,” Rosi Carrasco, a staff member of the Latino organization of the Southwest told me in April. “It’s not fair that our families have been divided simply because of the acts of ICE, and we want them to stop.” Following the highly-publicized raid on a kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa, the chorus grew louder.
So will this renewed effort to put “a human face on ... the broken immigration system” spur reform? To be sure, there’s a large segment of the GOP caucus that has nothing but disdain for the undocumented people trying to make their way in the United States. Two highly visible Illinois Republicans -- Reps. Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam -- have terrible records on immigration, for example. The latter even suggested that a “very significant proportion” of the undocumented population are “dangerous criminals.” Their opinions aren’t likely to change any time soon.
But that’s not necessarily the case for conservative Democrats that have balked at comprehensive reform in the past for fear of looking soft on crime. Paired with strict hiring penalties or a minimum wage hike, it’s possible they could be persuaded by the humanitarian argument. It’s certainly worth a try.