(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Progressive -and conservative -groups announce plans for ‘immigration summer’

On different sides of the political aisle, Latinos promoting immigration reform announced their groups’ intentions to keep the pressure on Congress, while legislators leave D.C. to go to their home towns.  On Wednesday the Alliance for Citizenship, an umbrella group composed of different organizations, held a press conference on their plans for what they are calling immigration reform summer.

“In August, Republicans will be hearing from their constituents, from business owners, from law enforcement, from clergy, from their voters and their campaign contributors that sensible immigration reform absolutely has to pass this year,” said Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez. “If they go to a beach resort, I want the hotel owner and the maid who puts a chocolate on their pillow to talk to them about immigration reform.  Another 40,000-50,000 people will be deported while Congress is on vacation and we simply cannot allow Republicans to drag their feet,” he added.

Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said “Speaker Boehner and Republicans in the House are in for a big surprise this August recess. The broadest, most diverse coalition in America are ready to welcome them home.  From civic engagement activities, phone-banking and participating in town halls to continuing our ad campaign and rallying in the corners of their districts, we will be pounding the drums for immigration reform,” he added.

But it is not just Democrats and progressive groups who are working the August recess to lobby for immigration legislation.

“We’re launching the Conservative Immigration Support Network, an August support program providing House Republicans with positive reinforcement to continue considering immigration reform,” says Emily Benavides, Communications Director for the Hispanic Leadership Network.  “We’ll have a presence in more than 20 districts in over 10 states through our grasstops and grassroots efforts,” Benavides explains, adding it will include programs to engage key local leaders and digital outreach, as well as district-by-district studies on the economic impact of immigration reform.

In addition, top conservative organizations, spearheaded by the American Action Forum and the Americans for Tax Reform, are sending House members an August Immigration Reform Packet , described as “a compendium of varying market-based views on the economics, messaging points, and polling that will help you discuss the immigration issue with your constituents,” according to the packet.

So  – will the progressive and conservative push work on House members who are on the fence on reform?

Arizona State University political scientist Rodolfo Espino says there are more advantages now compared to the last time Washington tried to tackle comprehensive immigration reform.

“I would say the scales have tipped,” says Espino.  “The number pushing “for” versus “against” is completely different. Before you did not have as many on the left and the right providing cover,” he explains.  The advantage now, Espino says, is that many of these organizations have the resources – and the lobbyists – to try to help legislators make a case for reform with their voters.

The question remains whether legislators with a conservative base can be swayed.  There is one advantage  – it is 2013 not 2014 – and pro-immigration reform organizations on the left and the right can use that to their advantage, says Espino.

“Organizations can tell representatives that ‘something else will be in the news next year,’ and the time is now for a hot-button issue,” says Espino.  After all, he says, “we are in the doldrums of summer.”

%d bloggers like this: