Hoping that anger will lead to action, on Tuesday amnesty advocates announced plans to aggressively confront House Republicans opposed to comprehensive immigration reform to demand they act on legislation this year.
Kica Matos, a spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and Director for Immigrant Rights & Racial Justice at the Campaign for Community Change, said on a conference call that amnesty advocates will relentlessly get in the faces of House Republicans–and that no Republican would be safe from their hostility.
“Here is our message to House Republicans who don’t support immigration reform,” she said on the Tuesday conference call. “We will be a thorn in your side every single day. We’ll be in your face. Get used to seeing us.”
Matos said that she felt “legislation is still possible this year” and emphasized that they are “gonna pursue legislative reform as aggressively as we can, precisely because it is an election year.”
Other leaders on the conference call included Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, and Gustavo Torres, the director of CASA in Action. Sharry said the GOP would “head over the demographic cliff and won’t be able to compete in presidential and senate elections” if they do not support amnesty. He added if amnesty legislation does not pass Congress, “we’re going to insist on President Obama to take immediate action.” Matos, echoing the talking points of the GOP establishment, offered the party some unsolicited advice, saying the GOP should care more about Republicans in purple districts than in conservative red districts, even though voters from a party’s base turn out more in midterm elections.
Amnesty advocates–those like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)–may urgently want legislation passed this year because they have conceded that 2014 would be the last chance for such legislation.They ramped up their tactics after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that this may not be the year for immigration reform, especially after conservatives have emphasized the devastating impact the legislation would have on American workers of all races. In addition, amnesty opponents have argued focusing on immigration would take the focus off Obamacare and that Obama has shown that he cannot be trusted to implement the country’s immigration laws.
On Sunday, Schumer even suggested that Congress pass amnesty legislation this year and wait until 2017 to implement it–after President Barack Obama leaves office. He also said that illegal immigrants who came to America before 2014 should be eligible for amnesty.
Politico previously reported that these groups “plan to unleash their anger at the right” and begin a “more aggressive campaign” in which they “will begin confronting Republican lawmakers at public appearances, congressional hearings and events back in home districts.”
Matos told Politico that the groups are going to “switch tactics from persuasion to punishment.” She promised daily confrontations for at least the next two months.
They will be joined by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Democrats in Congress. Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy for the group, said they would be “focusing like a laser” on Catholic Republicans in the House to persuade them on immigration reform.
These tactics, though, may backfire on amnesty advocates. The “all-out harassment mode” and the “in-your-face” tactics of amnesty advocates threatened immigration reform last year, turning off moderate Republicans.
“They’ve killed reform. It’s over. It’s dead. They killed it,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who supports immigration reform, said last year. “I begged them not to do crazy things, and they decided to be crazy. Now it’s dead. That’s what they get. It’s stupid. Why target the people who actually want to do reform?”