Immigration Reform 2013: Anti-Immigration Activists Are Fighting Reform, and Losing

ByMarlena Luhr

August is an important month for Congress. This is one of the few extended periods when representatives return home to listen to their constituents. Even though House Republican leaders spent their final days and weeks before the recess voting on bills, such as repealing the health care law and targeting the Internal Revenue Service, constituents have been rallying to sway congressmen about S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

Anti-immigration reformers do exist and they are organizing to gain more opposition for the bill, but their efforts have been fruitless and are unlikely to gain support.

This past Monday, the “Stop Amnesty Tour” had its inaugural stop in Richmond, Virginia.  Not so coincidentally, this is the home district of a major backer of the immigration reform, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Rep. Steve King, (R-Iowa), who is infamous for his bigoted comments towards illegal aliens, spoke to the crowd of approximately 60 people who attended the rally. Recent rallies in his home district show that although King is passionate in his views his own constituents favor the immigration reform. The Tea Party Patriots and the Eagle Forum are some of the major groups rallying behind the effort. Other upcoming stops on the “Stop Amnesty Tour” include states such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, and South Carolina. The Washington Post argues that King is a “great asset” to pro-immigration reformers since he is an “obvious crank.” Similar rallies are scheduled for Dallas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

A nationwide lobbying effort called “Action August” held by Organizing for Action is taking the opposite stance on the bill. According to a press release issued Tuesday, “OFA’s ‘Action August’ volunteers will make it clear to their representatives in Washington that they expect them to put the American people before D.C. politics.” Their website provides a public calendar for volunteers to use to publicize and track the events.

Concurrently, there have been many rallies held by constituents to influence their representatives to vote for the bill. Port Orange had a group of 30 people who marched to the office of Rep. Ron DeSantis at the Port Orange City Hall to gain support on immigration reform. More than 125 Fresno County residents are expected to attend a statewide immigration reform rally in Bakersfield, Calif. Approximately 5,000 advocates who will urge Republican House leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy to hold a vote on immigration reform legislation will join this group. Recently, Ohio hosted a rally which attracted more than 500 advocates for a pathway to citizenship in front of Rep. John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office. In Morristown, N.J., more than two dozen protesters advocated for immigration reform outside of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s office. 

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), looked to the business community to gain support in his district for the bill. He recently spoke at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce meeting to recruit allies in the business community to get involved in emphasizing the importance of the bill being passed to the Arizona representatives. Even House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy stated that the U.S. needs to grow its population to compete with global economies, at a recent press conference in Newport

There is the possibility that the rest of the “Stop Amnesty Tour” will be more popular and that more grassroots opposition rallies will sprout up. Currently, however, that’s looking pretty unlikely.