New England Immigrant Advocates Urge House Republicans to "Remember November" And Resume Immigration Reform
July 11, 2013 BOSTON — In a meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday, House Republicans decided to reject the Senate's historic bipartisan agreement on immigration reform and to only pursue piecemeal legislation gradually, with an emphasis on border security first. Immigrant advocates across New England reacted strongly against the decision, noting that the reform bill passed the Senate with unprecedented bipartisan support, that every major poll has shown the American people favor a strong and interconnected bill to deal with the current broken system, and that all impartial studies show that the nation and economy would benefit from a broad plan that affords 11 million immigrants the chance to contribute fully to American society through citizenship.
"We are pleased that Speaker Boehner recognizes the need to act on immigration reform, but we are deeply disappointed that he and other Republican leaders have chosen not to advance a bill that deals with all aspects of the problem," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), headquartered in Boston. "Here in New England, our entire House delegation will not even get a chance to add their voice to the debate, because House leadership has rejected the possibility of bringing a unified bill to the floor. We urge our Republican colleagues to remember the cost paid by anti-immigration reform candidates in the last election, and to resume bipartisan negotiations on this urgent matter for all Americans."
Alejandro Urrutia, a member of the Governor's Commission on Latino Affairs in New Hampshire, echoed that sentiment. "Republican leadership needs to remember that reform will help them politically at the ballot box, and it will achieve many of their own political goals. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has shown that a comprehensive reform bill would slash future unauthorized immigration, it would reduce the national debt, and it would increase economic growth. That's why over two-thirds of the Senate approved comprehensive reform. Advocates in New Hampshire strongly urge the House to do the same."
Other immigrant advocates also expressed opposition to the House Republican decision. "We are outraged by the lack of leadership the House is demonstrating in moving forward with comprehensive immigration reform," said Joana Dos Santos, Executive Director of the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center in Fitchburg. "The lives of millions of people, the economic sustainability of the nation, effective national security practices, and an efficient system of immigration for this country are at stake if this inaction continues."
Georgina Kariuki, Founder of the African Council in Worcester, agreed. "We are gravely disappointed that the House of Representatives has strongly indicated their unwillingness to support a comprehensive plan on immigration reform, " she said. "The support and opportunity to finally bring millions out of the shadows and to strengthen America is clearly there, and it is so unfortunate that the House appears opposed to moving forward on the issue."
"They need to note, " Kariuki continued, "that we, also, are not deterred in seeing comprehensive immigration reform through to its realization."
Ms. Millona concurred. "MIRA will continue our work with our members and allies to win the reform we need, including a path to citizenship, for the betterment of our communities, our economy, and our nation."