Note: A version of this post appeared at NC Policy Watch.
This week, House Speaker John Boehner stated flatly that there will not be any conference with the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill. We’re hearing one excuse after another about how immigration reform is too complicated and there isn’t enough time for a vote. After months of dithering, it’s clear that House leaders are hoping to run out the clock on immigration. If it holds true that the House doesn’t vote on any other immigration bills, then an amendment to deport DREAM-eligible immigrants — which passed with overwhelming GOP support in June — will be the only immigration measure to have received a vote on the floor of the House in 2013.
The bipartisan Senate bill passed with overwhelming support in late June. Since then, more than 150,000 people have been deported. The human cost of inaction on immigration reform by the House of Representatives is extremely damaging to communities across the country.
Passing immigration reform isn’t a matter of the calendar, it’s a matter of will. It is an outrage that any member of the House leadership would say there isn’t enough time to vote on immigration reform. Right now, today, the votes exist to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The House has both November and December to find time to schedule it — because our families’ lives are on the line. The movement for immigration reform is growing more and more powerful every day. The question for the GOP is whether it will align with mainstream American values and changing American demographics.
This fight is personal to us. Every day the House fails to act on immigration reform is another day when 1,120 families are ripped apart by senseless deportation. We will do whatever it takes to stop it. That’s why we will continue to fight — with House Republicans and against the Obama Administration — to stop the deportations of people who should be on a path to permanent residence, not permanent separation.
Just this week, immigrant rights and labor leaders announced the launch of “Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship,” taking place on the National Mall, steps away from the Capitol. Leaders and immigrant members of the community will fast every day and night, abstaining from all food—except water—to move the hearts and compassion of members of Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
The fast in Washington, DC will be in conjunction with dozens of local and solidarity fasts, events, and actions already underway in key congressional districts across the country. Fasters will be joined nationwide by groups and activists who are prepared to make sacrifices for the passage of immigration reform with a path to citizenship. After visiting with activists in DC, Salt Lake City Catholic Bishop John Wester said:
I’m very grateful because I’m hoping that it will communicate to our people in the United States the need for immigration reform — that it’s not just politics. This is a human issue that calls for courageous action on the parts of our elected officials. And for every day that they dally and dither and don’t do anything, people are suffering.”