Congress certainly has a lot on their plate as they reconvene from a long recess this week—a jobs bill, financial reform and now the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice. Over the weekend, however, congressional leaders put immigration reform at the top of their legislative to-do lists, calling for bipartisan cooperation to pass reform this year. Thousands of immigration supporters flocked to rallies in cities all over the country this weekend—in Las Vegas, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, El Paso, New York and Lakewood—all calling on President Obama and Congress to fix our broken immigration system. The question remains, however, with midterm elections around the corner and a projected lower Latino turnout, will Congress have the courage to put aside partisan politics and actually tackle reform this year?
At a rally in downtown Las Vegas Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) spoke to a crowd of more than 6,000 people and vowed to start working on reform:
We’re going to come back. We’re going to do comprehensive immigration reform now! We need to do this this year! We cannot wait. We’re going to pass immigration reform, just as we passed health care reform.
At a similar event in Chicago, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) also pledged his support for reform and called for a more bipartisan effort.
We need that same determination and that same commitment to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. That is our challenge—to bring together the Democratic voices as well as good-thinking Republicans to make this a reality of immigration reform. We can do this.
Immigration supporters have turned up the heat on immigration reform in recent weeks—first with Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer’s blueprint for immigration reform, then a pledge of support from Senator Patrick Leahy and a commitment from Senator Reid who promised to make time for legislation on the floor this year, followed by a large immigration rally in March in which an estimated 200,000 from at least 35 states gathered in Washington, D.C.
The questions now are whether or not Sens. Schumer and Graham can find more Republican support for their forthcoming reform bill and how much time and energy the White House is willing to spend in supporting the issue—especially with financial reform, a new Supreme Court nominee and the upcoming mid-term elections already on their plate. As evidenced by the large rallies and high turn out, immigration reform remains a top priority for many Americans—especially Hispanic voters, who, as NPR points out, need to be reminded why they turned out in such large numbers at the voting booth in 2008.
Photo by CAN BALCIOGLU.
FILED UNDER: Executive Branch, Republicans, undocumented immigration