Most lawmakers in the GOP-led U.S. House are "failing the Latino community" when it comes to immigration issues, according to a preliminary score card released last week.
The initial 2014 National Immigration Score Card is based on immigration-related votes taken by the 435 House members of the current 113th Congress.
The worst score of 59 percent went to 219 House members, all of whom are Republicans including six from Illinois. A total of 170 House lawmakers, all Democrats, received the best score of 100 percent, with nine of them being from Illinois. As a whole, the House earned an average score of 77 percent.
“Our community is being disproportionately devastated by the broken immigration system that this Congress refuses to fix. This preliminary score card shows that most in Congress are clearly failing us on immigration right now,” said the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement's (LCLAA) Executive Director Hector Sanchez. “Latinos can no longer tolerate more excuses on why reform has not passed."
The LCLAA put together the score card along with the Hispanic Federation, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Voto Latino.
House members have a chance to improve their grades if they vote to pass immigration reform legislation with an earned pathway to citizenship for America’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants before the final 2014 National Immigration Score Card is released in July, according to the organizations.
The Illinois congressmen with a failing score of 59 percent are Reps. Peter Roskam (R-6), Rodney Davis (R-13), Randy Hultgren (R-14), John Shimkus (R-15), Adam Kinzinger (R-16) and Aaron Schock (R-18).
Kinzinger, Shimkus and Schock appear to be making some headway on the issue, however, with each of them having made recent statements expressing support for immigration reform, including some type of pathway for America's undocument immigrants to live or work in the country legally.
Meanwhile, the House members from Illinois who earned perfect marks on the preliminary score card are U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush (D-1), Robin Kelly (D-2), Luis Gutierrez (D-4), Mike Quigley (D-5), Danny Davis (D-7), Tammy Duckworth (D-8), Jan Schakowsky (D-9), Bill Foster (D-11) and Bill Enyart (D-12).
Duckworth, Foster, Kelly, Rush, Schakowsky and Schneider sent a letter to their three Republican colleagues on May 12 to commend their leadership on the issue, while also urging them to co-sponsor the comprehensive immigration reform bill pending in the House.
“We are encouraged that Representatives Kinzinger, Shimkus and Schock were willing to speak out in support of immigration reform and a path to citizenship,” Foster said earlier this month. “But now it’s time to follow those words with action and support H.R. 15, a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would secure our borders, provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, and create a more secure and efficient system for legal immigration.”
U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL,3) received a 76.5 percent on the score card because he voted 'no' on U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch's (D-FL,21) amendment that looked to eliminate the mandate for immigration detention bed quotas in H.R. 2217, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2014. Additionally, Lipisnski has not co-sponsored H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which is similar to the bipartisan immigration reform measure approved by the Senate last year. Upon the report card's release, Lipinski had not signed on to a discharge petition to force a vote on H.R. 15, but he added his name to the list of supporters on Friday.
Lipinski also voted 'yes' on the Faithful Execution of the Law Act, H.R. 3973, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL,6) and passed the House in March.
In an email to Progress Illinois, Joshua Silvia with the Hispanic Federation explained why the national Latino organizations see the Faithful Execution of the Law Act as "a key immigration vote":
The Faithful Execution of the Law Act amends section 530D, title 28, United States Code, in order to require the Attorney General of the United States to report to Congress any time a Federal official establishes or implements a formal or informal policy to refrain from enforcing any provision of Federal law. It further requires the Attorney General to report on the reason for the establishment or implementation of such a policy.
According to the Committee Report these changes are necessary because the 'the President's far-reaching claims of executive power, if left unchecked, will vest the President with broad domestic policy authority that the Constitution does not grant him.' Furthermore, the report cites 'for instance, while Congress is currently debating how to reform our immigration laws, the President effectively enacted the DREAM Act himself by ordering immigration officials to stop enforcing the immigration laws against certain unlawful immigrants.'
Our organizations are fully supportive of the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and believe him to have the executive authority to the program.
U.S. Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL,17) received a 94 percent on the score card because they also voted in favor of the Faithful Execution of the Law Act.
Brent Wilkes, LULAC's national executive director, noted that the results of the finalized 2014 score card "will enable voters to look past election year rhetoric" and "cast an informed vote on candidates" regarding immigration issues.
“In 2016, Latinos will again be an ethnic group which both Republicans and Democrats will aggressively court," he said. "It is critical that our community be well versed on which members of Congress fought for immigration reform and which did not. ”
Hispanic Federation President Jose Calderon added that the score card "should serve as a wake-up call to those members of Congress who are not helping to advance the cause of just and pragmatic reform."
"Failure in leadership on immigration will certainly not go unnoticed by our community,” he warned.
The final scores for House members will be based on the following criteria, according to the national Latino groups:
Signature on Discharge Petition for H.R. 15, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (Current signatures on 113th Congress Discharge Petition Number 0009)
The preliminary report card was released on the heels of news that President Barack Obama has put off a Department of Homeland Security review of deportation practices, pushing it back to the end of this summer. Back in March, Obama ordered the Department of Homeland Security to take a look at its policies to see if deportations can be handled "more humanely within the confines of the law."
The reasoning behind Obama's move to postpone the review's completion is to prevent it from becoming another excuse in the next few months for the already long-standing inaction on immigration reform in the Republican-led House.
But Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the Heartland Alliance's National Immigration Justice Center, was disappointed to learn the review has been delayed. She issued the following statement in response to Obama's decision:
Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center is disheartened by President Obama’s decision to delay review of harsh deportation policies. Over the next three months while Congress stalls, the president will deport as many as 100,000 people. Continuing at the current rate, hundreds of thousands of children and adults will be separated from their loved ones. Families have waited years for Congress to pass meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform; they cannot afford to wait any longer.
The administration’s current deportation practices are causing irreparable harm to American children, families, and communities. Why, when the president can take action today, is he denying these families their right to remain together? It is time to stop the politicization of immigration reform. Immigration reform is a human rights issue and we have a moral obligation to act now. Congress, President Obama, and advocates must work together — now — to pass comprehensive immigration reform and end harsh immigration policies. Otherwise, Congress and the president will have to face these immigrants, many of whom are part of U.S. citizen families — and tell them they are no longer welcome in this nation of immigrants.