Player of the Week: Immigration activists

Proponents of the Senate-passed immigration reform bill are attempting to put pressure on House Republican leaders to act.

But it is not clear that the House will pass any immigration or border-security measures this Congress.

Fast for Families, a coalition of groups that support a pathway to citizenship, has organized a nationwide fast to promote their agenda.

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Over the Thanksgiving holiday, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visited fasters on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C. The president told them that it’s not a matter of if, but when, Congress passes immigration reform. The odds, however, are against it happening soon.

Rejecting conventional wisdom, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently said immigration reform is “absolutely not” dead.

Senate Democratic leaders and the White House want him to move some immigration-related bill so that the chambers can begin a conference negotiation. Yet, in a nod to conservatives, Boehner said last month that the House will never go to conference with the Senate on the upper chamber’s legislation.

The ball is in Boehner’s court. So what now?

In a Monday release, Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, called on House GOP leaders “to commit to a timeline for votes on immigration reform.”

Boehner could start with border-security bills that cleared the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year. But those narrow measures passed along party lines, so Boehner would need to minimize defections to get them through.

Backers of the Senate measure have targeted Boehner repeatedly. Activists last month questioned him at a Capitol Hill diner and held a candlelight vigil outside his Washington, D.C., home. Over the summer, more than 500 people protested at Boehner’s Springfield, Ohio, office.

 

The clout of immigration activists will be decisive in Boehner’s decision either to schedule a vote over the next year or instead to continue excoriating the Senate bill.