New York Times
By Julia Preston
July 2, 2013
One of the largest coalitions of immigrant, labor and voter groups supporting an immigration overhaul said it will wage “all-in throw-down” campaigns in July in the districts of seven Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, and four lawmakers in purple districts that could become Democratic in future elections.
Leaders of the coalition, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, and the Service Employees International Union, one of the most active unions working to pass the overhaul, said they would spend more than $1 million on radio ads, telephone banks and social media drives in the districts.
They will focus on the House leadership, including Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, Representatives Eric Cantor of Virginia, Kevin McCarthy of California and Peter Roskam of Illinois, as well as three other top Republicans: Darrell Issa of California, Greg Walden of Oregon and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
Other Republicans the groups will focus on as possible swing votes are Representatives Buck McKeon of California, Mike Coffman of Colorado, Daniel Webster of Florida and Michael Grimm of New York.
Coalition leaders said focusing on those districts would be part of a nationwide campaign to push House lawmakers to hold a vote before the end of this month on a broad immigration bill that would include a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. The campaign would also concentrate on Republican districts in California and Texas and in districts with many Latino voters in Central Florida, they said.
“We need a vote on citizenship,” said Eliseo Medina, international secretary-treasurer of the service sector union, the S.E.I.U. “The immigrants deserve that, and our country deserves that.”
House leaders have given no sign that a vote on one comprehensive immigration bill is part of their strategy. A broad bill that includes a path to citizenship passed the Senate last week, with 14 Republicans joining 52 Democrats in support. But no similar bill has been introduced in the House. The House Judiciary Committee is preparing four immigration bills, but none of them include legalization for undocumented immigrants. Mr. Boehner has tipped his hand only to say that any bill must pass with a majority of Republican votes.
Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, a central organization in the coalition, said many immigrant communities were spurred to action after House Republicans passed a measure last month to halt a program giving reprieves from deportation to young undocumented immigrants, which has been very popular in those communities.
“House Republicans have already gone a long way in stoking our families’ outrage,” Mr. Bhargava said.
But the leaders said they would appeal to Republicans’ long-term political interests. Although the number of House districts with a significant amount of Latino and immigrant voters is not more than 40 (out of 435), it is large enough to cost House Republicans their majority in elections next year if they repel those voters by blocking the overhaul, Mr. Medina said.
“The G.O.P. day of reckoning is not far-off in the future, it is now,” he said.
Carlos Duarte, the state director in Texas for Mi Familia Vota, a Latino voter registration group, said that aside from town-hall meetings and other activities during July, the organization would continue to court new Latino voters. Mr. Duarte said the group registered more than 40,000 Latinos in Texas who voted for the first time in 2012.
Both Texas senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, voted against the Senate bill.
“I think they made a mistaken political calculus,” Mr. Duarte said. “We are not going away any time soon.”
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