Pro-immigration reform advocates say they don’t suspect efforts to pass an immigration reform bill this year could be derailed by the recent storm of scandals. Instead, they say the momentum to approve legislation to overhaul the nation’s broken immigration system is unstoppable.
As the Senate Judiciary Committee continues the markup of the immigration reform legislation introduced by the “Gang of Eight,” Obama administration officials have been putting out “fires.”
First, the House’s focus on Benghazi was persistent. Then, news broke out that the IRS unfairly targeted politically conservative groups and Democrats and Republicans alike were outraged. The cherry on top came when the Associated Press revealed the Department of Justice had seized telephone records from the organization and some of its reporters.
Scandals won’t negatively impact immigration reform bill
Judy Pino, spokeswoman for the LIBRE Initiative, a conservative-leaning Latino group, said the recent scandals raise questions about the Obama administration’s efforts on other issues, including immigration.
However, Pino said she and her group don’t believe the recent scandals will derail efforts to pass an immigration reform bill this year mainly because “there are so many strong forces behind those efforts.”
“Above all the scandals, we have a bipartisan group of strong legislators who are behind the immigration reform bill, so we have faith that it will pass in the Senate and in the House,” Pino told VOXXI.
She added that it wouldn’t be “fiscally responsible” to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Instead, she said Congress should act once and pass an immigration reform bill so that undocumented immigrants can “come out of the shadows,” work legally and contribute to the U.S. economy.
Mark Falzone, deputy director for the National Immigration Forum, suggested he also doesn’t think the scandals will disrupt efforts to pass an immigration reform bill this year, saying the bill has “undeniable momentum.” His group is working on building more momentum through a national network of faith, law enforcement and business leaders. The network is dubbed Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform.
Other advocates argue the recent scandals could actually help the immigration reform efforts.
When asked by a BuzzFeed reporter whether the scandals could hurt the immigration reform bill’s momentum, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said, “You could actually argue that either way.” Castro added that with the media spotlight on the IRS and the DOJ controversies, members of Congress could “go behind the scenes and work.”
Immigration reform bill has surpassed other tests
This is not the first time immigration reform efforts have been tested this year.
Advocates say there have been a number of events this year that threatened to derail the immigration reform bill. For example, some were concerned that the attention on the gun control bill would put the issue of immigration on the back seat. Another such event was the Boston marathon bombing in April.
After news broke that the two individuals suspected of planting the bombs at the Boston marathon were recent immigrants, several Republican lawmakers began calling on Congress to delay the immigration reform bill. They were concerned about the weaknesses of the U.S. immigration system that resulted in officials not finding out about a six-month trip that the oldest bombing suspect took to Russia last year.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addressed those concerns at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, saying the immigration reform bill would actually help address “the most serious problems” with the nation’s current immigration system. She also said progress on immigration reform should not be stalled because of the Boston bombing.
Efforts to pass an immigration reform bill were also tested in 2006. They stalled a year later, however, because the bill didn’t have enough support—mainly from Republicans—to pass.
But advocates say they are hopeful the same won’t occur this year.
According to Pino of the LIBRE Initiative, ”This time around, you have the political will to pass immigration reform that you didn’t have back in 2006.”