Advocates for immigration reform are claiming that their summer scheme of targeting individual House members in their districts was just a prelude to their autumn plans for major demonstrations in large cities on October 5, three days before their expected march on Washington on October 8.
The advocates argue that their failure to convince House members opposed to immigration reform to change their stances was because they had not completed their actions yet.
Jeremy Robbins, director of the pro-immigration Partnership for a New American Economy which is backed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said, “It’s been not huge marches on Washington, but those have been happening on Main Street, in key districts around the country. And that’s something we’re very proud and optimistic with how that’s gone.”
Robbins was echoed by the AFL-CIO’s Tom Snyder, who is managing the organization’s campaign for immigration reform. Snyder said, “You do have to lobby.” He explained that the August plan of targeting individual Congressmen was for a “massive number of events in Republican districts, not necessarily huge rallies.” He boasted, “We’re planning to escalate the pressure in September, October and November. We’re executing a plan that we made some time ago.”
But Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), argued, “I say that one of the problems we have is that Congress isn’t hearing enough from the American people, that we’re using too many sophisticated methods of communication. We’re buying ads there, and radio ads there, and hiring this lobbyist there. We need people power, and we need to concentrate.”
The problem for immigration reform advocates is that budget and debt-ceiling debates will be the focus of the legislative calendar in September, so immigration reform won’t come up until October. And if the battles over the budget exceed the time envisioned for them, any momentum that the advocates build may be lost.
Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA, which opposes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, noted that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said the House won’t vote on the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate unless it has the support of a majority of the Republican conference.
“As long as that’s the case, there’s not this great sense of looming danger out there,” he said. Of the projected October series of rallies, he added “I thought that was what they were planning for August. It sounds like more of the same. I don’t see how more political theater is going to make a difference.”