Where’s that Finish Line?


After what seemed like a whirlwind of action in the Senate with hundreds of amendments in committee and then hundreds more filed during the floor debate, we ended up with a bill passed at the end of June.  Great timing of course because that still left a good month for the House to crank into high gear and get something passed that could then be conferenced with the Senate legislation in the fall.

And yet, here we sit with a few short work days left before the House breaks for their August recess and we have yet to see any bill come to the floor.  Now, that is actually good news in at least one way, because frankly, the five bills that have passed out of committee in the House are a mixed bag at best with one in particular that I think we all pretty much love to hate: the SAFE Act.

So, if I had to choose between the SAFE Act (or Sensenbrenner Returns) being the vehicle that is used to conference with the Senate bill and inaction, I guess I’d choose inaction.

But still, I know that many of us are champing at the bit here, wanting to push for immigration reform, wanting the next step to happen, to reach the next goal post and being disappointed when House Leadership doesn’t seem to feel the same sense of urgency.

Now we have Speaker Boehner refusing to say whether a path to citizenship might be in a House bill, Minority Leader Pelosi has said maybe a piecemeal approach would be okay if it gets them to conference with the Senate, and then some Democrats are saying that immigration reform won’t even pass in 2014 because of how tough it would be to get it done in an election year.

The question is, do we sit back and take this as gospel or do we do everything that we can to push the House to real action?

I vote for taking action.  I vote for calling our Representatives (202-224-3121) and telling them we need real, comprehensive reform now and not later.  I vote for doing district visits during the August recess and telling staff and Congressional Members about the people in their communities that are being affected, right now, by their lack of action.  I vote for responding to attacks on immigration reform in my paper by sending in Letters to the Editor and Opinion pieces and reaching out to reporters who may be confused about what’s what in immigration law.

If we, along with other community members and stakeholders, refuse to do nothing and make our voices and the voices of our clients heard, I firmly believe we can make a difference.

by T. Douglas Stump