When the lawmaker is away, immigration advocates were supposed to play hardball. Until they didn’t. The plan was to show up during Congress’ recess at town hall meetings in districts throughout the country, applying pressure on House Republican hold outs or those who may be on the fence to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The strategy has slightly changed, away from an immigration face off between opponent and supporters. Why? On this hot topic, opponents have at most let out a meow. Their roar is #¡DefundObamacare! as evidenced by Heritage Action’s two week town halls currently underway.
I checked with an authority on this subject–a friend who assures me this event occurs when likeminded guys get together and beat the metaphorical drum of masculinity. He reports (in a text):
“Rule #1: Bro-fests have to occur naturally…typically over shared enthusiasm of protein shakes or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s documentary [sic] ‘Pumping Iron’.”
When you’re in Washington, add politics, especially a hot topic like immigration, to this list.
Before Lee and Slade came to me live, they closed out the previous topic before the commercial break, announcing, soon it will be:
“Viviana Hurtado Time.”
There’s Miller Time.
Now: Viviana Hurtado Time.
Then I nuzzled my way under their big Bro wings and we had a lot of immigration things to say, but from a slightly more organic and grassroots perspective than what you hear if you tune into the usual suspects.
Firstly, advocates, led by the so-called DREAMers–those students and military service members brought to the U.S. illegally–aren’t taking their foot off the advocacy accelerator during August recess. Ready to attend town halls, to put a face to a group that has been compared with objects such as dogs, anchors of the term “anchor baby” (which refers to a baby an illegal immigrant mother has with the alleged intention of gaining legalized status), or most recently drug runners with calves the size of cantaloupes, in the words of Iowa Congressman Steve King.
Secondly, these activists have never taken their eyes off President Obama, turning up the calor at least since the summer of 2011. That’s when DREAMers protested the skyrocketing deportations at White House hosted meetings throughout the country and even President Obama’s speech at the National Council of La Raza‘s annual convention which I witnessed and write about in Anatomy of an Immigration Debate: Carne Asada at NCLR.
Comprehensive immigration reform appears to be on life support. Still, if our country is closer than it’s been in more than 25 years to overhauling laws that currently keep talented foreigners out, encourage employer abuse, and orphan children after deporting their parents, it’s because of the DREAMers, who broke rank with the advocacy community in 2011 to apply pressure that continues to GOP lawmakers and the President.
I wouldn’t underestimate these activists. Facing deportation and with their opportunities to attend college or find a job stunted, they have little to lose. Hopelessness and desperation triggers the survivor instinct. For them and the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, it’s a fight to the finish.
The question is: will that finish be this Fall? 2014? 2016? And now we get into election years.
Click on the link to hear my Congress Recess of Immigration Bro Fest with Hypervocal’s Lee Brenner and Slade Sohmer which aired on SiriusXM’s Politics Powered by Twitter on August 6, 2013.
This post is part of the original The Wise Latina Club series “Anatomy of an Immigration Debate” which analyze the charged political and social context of this debate within the context of the extraordinary demographic changes confirmed by the 2010 U.S. Census. Click here to read previous entries.What’s the future of the immigration overhaul bill once lawmakers return in the fall?