OFA Fail: No Immigration Reform Activists Show Up For Republican's Town Hall

Republicans are getting very little heat on comprehensive immigration reform at their August town halls, reports Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) represents a South Jersey congressional district with a sizable Hispanic population, farmlands that employ migrant workers, an influential labor union presence and a constituency that voted twice for President Obama. He's precisely the kind of GOP lawmaker immigration advocates said they would target over the August recess, when members of Congress return home for the longest stretch of the year. But at a local Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting and a Rotary Club luncheon on Thursday, immigration was never mentioned. The 10-term incumbent met with constituents in open forums where he fielded questions on the economy, the implementation of Obama's health care law, unrest in the Middle East and even how to improve local infrastructure to ease traffic to the Jersey shore. "It's not coming up," LoBiondo said in interview. "It is a big issue nationally, but in this district it's just not something on people's minds." It's not because advocates aren't trying. LoBiondo has not staked out any hard-line positions on immigration, and his is one of 17 congressional districts the House Democrats' campaign operation said they would target on immigration in August with "media tactics, messaging amplification and community outreach," according to a memo. Last week, Organizing for Action, an outside political group promoting Obama's agenda, used its local New Jersey Twitter account in an effort to organize supporters to appear at a LoBiondo event in Cape May to show support for an immigration overhaul. Jason Galanes, LoBiondo's spokesman, notified event organizers and local police that protesters might be in attendance. It was not necessary. "No one showed up," Galanes said. LoBiondo's lack of political pressure to support or oppose immigration overhaul has been reflected across Republican congressional districts during the August recess. Supporters of overhauling the nation's immigration laws see the muted month as perhaps a partial victory, proof that Republicans who have indicated they could support a path to legalizing undocumented immigrants will not face the harsh backlash that has been anticipated from conservatives back home. "The big story of the August recess is that we haven't seen what some had predicted -- this major anti-immigrant movement where members of Congress would be heckled into inaction," said Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, which launched a $400,000 radio advertisement campaign to encourage Republicans to support immigration changes. Those who oppose granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants saw something else in August -- a conservative movement focused more on dismantling the president's health care law than worrying about an immigration overhaul package that faces an uncertain future in the GOP-led U.S. House. "There's only so much outrage a group of people can sustain, and the opponents of Obamacare and the opponents of amnesty overlap," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Services, which opposes granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants. "I don't think anybody won August because it was kind of a wash." That rings true for Andy Merendino, a small-business owner from Carneys Point, N.J., who attended Thursday's breakfast and questioned LoBiondo on the debt and the economy. In an interview, Merendino said he cares about immigration and opposes a path to citizenship, but he is more concerned about the implementation of the health care law. "That's going to affect way more people. It affects every citizen, and it's not going to end well," he said.">USA Today.

One example cited is Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), who represents a South Jersey congressional district with a large Hispanic population and farmlands that employ migrant workers. He said in an interview, “it’s not coming up. It is a big issue nationally, but in this district it’s just not something on people’s minds.”

LoBiondo is exactly the type of congressman immigration advocates like Senator Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said should be targeted over the August recess.

But people in his district are more concerned with  “the economy, the implementation of Obama’s health care law, unrest in the Middle East and even how to improve local infrastructure to ease traffic to the Jersey shore.”

It’s not because advocates aren’t trying. LoBiondo has not staked out any hard-line positions on immigration, and his is one of 17 congressional districts the House Democrats’ campaign operation said they would target on immigration in August with “media tactics, messaging amplification and community outreach,” according to a memo.

Last week, Organizing for Action, an outside political group promoting Obama’s agenda, used its local New Jersey Twitter account in an effort to organize supporters to appear at a LoBiondo event in Cape May to show support for an immigration overhaul. Jason Galanes, LoBiondo’s spokesman, notified event organizers and local police that protesters might be in attendance. 

It turns out, the extra security wasn’t necessary. “No one showed up,” Galanes said.

USA Today goes on to report that “LoBiondo’s lack of political pressure to support or oppose immigration overhaul has been reflected across Republican congressional districts during the August recess.”

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