House Dems pressure Sen. Reid to act on immigration reform

Democrats held the press conference to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidTop Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor GOP in uncharted territory rolling back rules through resolutions MORE (D-Nev.) into action, but they were careful not to criticize the leader.

“The Senate has a responsibility to lead; the Democrats have a majority,” Rep. Luis GutierrezLuis Vicente GutierrezPelosi: Impeaching Trump 'not someplace I think we should go' No room for amnesty in our government spending bill Puerto Rico mayor fumes after GOP postpones hearing MORE (D-Ill.) said. "It's time for them to make their proposal clear."

ADVERTISEMENT
Several lawmakers did take aim at Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCNN to air sexual harassment Town Hall featuring Gretchen Carlson, Anita Hill Trump wrestles with handling American enemy combatants Flake: Trump's call for DOJ to probe Democrats 'not normal' MORE (R-S.C.), who had been negotiating an immigration proposal with Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump is right: The visa lotto has got to go Schumer predicts bipartisan support for passing DACA fix this year No room for amnesty in our government spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) but said that the effort would be considered dead on arrival if the borders are not secured.

"This comprehensive immigration reform must move forward,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeThe Hill's 12:30 Report We will fight for our DREAMers Bipartisan duo offer criminal justice reform legislation MORE (D-Texas), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus’s immigration task force. “We will not be intimidated by a senator from a Southern state or elsewhere."

Graham, who is also a top negotiator on the Senate’s climate change bill, has threatened to withdraw his support for that legislation if immigration moves first.

Speaking about Graham, Jackson Lee said, “ I will say to him, 'So what? We are not intimidated by you.' ”

Lee compared efforts to block the bill to the so-called “Dixiecrats,” segregationist Southern Democrats who were opposed to getting rid of Jim Crow laws.

Many Democrats want the immigration bill next on the agenda after financial regulatory reform because of a controversial new law passed in Arizona that would require police to check the identification of people they suspect are illegal immigrants.

Lawmakers at the press conference referenced the Arizona bill, which several called “unconstitutional,” as the primary reason to pass a bill as soon as possible.

“I’d like to thank Arizona’s governor [Jan Brewer (R)] for rocketing this issue to the forefront,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). “We’re pushing immigration reform to the top of the agenda.”

Despite the pressure to act, Democratic leaders in the House have hesitated to move first. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said two weeks ago that the House would look at immigration reform only if the Senate acted first. Reid has said both immigration and climate change are priorities.

The over half-dozen lawmakers at the press conference hailed mostly from the House, though Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezIn judge's 2010 Senate trial, Menendez was guilty of hypocrisy Excused Menendez juror: 'I don't think he did anything wrong' We don't need a terrorist attack to know diversity program has to go MORE (D-N.J.), a longtime supporter of immigration reform, was also present.