New York Times
By Julia Preston
November 8, 2013
A top Republican lawmaker told protesters he met with in his home district in California this week that the House of Representatives would not have time this year to vote on any immigration measure.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, the majority whip, told demonstrators in his office in Bakersfield on Wednesday night that the 16 days remaining on the House calendar in 2013 were too short a window for the House to take up the complex issue. But he said he was committed to moving on immigration votes in the House next year.
The comments were reported by Angelica Salas, the executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, who was one of the protesters who occupied Mr. McCarthy’s office for 10 hours on Wednesday. Mr. McCarthy came to the office to speak with the protesters after 11 o’clock that night. His office confirmed the conversation on Friday evening.
Mr. McCarthy’s comments cemented what lawmakers were already broadly assuming on Capitol Hill. But they came after a week when an array of groups who want to see a broad immigration overhaul intensified protests across the country hoping to push Republican leaders to hold a vote before the end of the year.
Another House Republican who is active on immigration said that despite the delay, he was not discouraged. That congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, said he was working with other Republicans on a bill to strengthen border security and allow 11.7 million illegal immigrants in the country to “get right with the law.” He said the measure could be ready early next year.
On Friday, 12 women blocked a street for an hour outside the Racine, Wis., office of Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Republican.
This week, advocates from a coalition of women’s organizations blocked intersections or protested in offices of House Republican lawmakers in six other cities. Women were arrested at the state Republican Party headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., and in front of the Federal Building in Cleveland.
On Thursday, another coalition that includes the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Service Employees International Union, two of the nation’s largest labor organizations, announced a campaign focused on nine House Republicans, whose districts include significant numbers of Latino voters. They said they would call or visit thousands of voters in each district in coming days to press the message that the lawmakers had failed to advance an immigration bill.
“The bottom line is if the G.O.P. doesn’t get right on immigration and win Latino voters, they will cease being a party that can win a national election,” said Richard Trumka, president of the labor federation.
Frustration is rising among advocates, after momentum they felt they had during a recess in August drifted away during the federal government shutdown and the fiscal battles this fall. In June, the Senate passed a broad bipartisan measure including a path to citizenship for immigrants here illegally. Advocates hoped for a vote in the House on a bill that could be paired with the Senate’s. But tense divisions remain among House Republicans, with a core of conservatives rejecting any legalization for illegal immigrants as amnesty.
In Bellevue on Thursday, more than 100 women entered the Republican Party offices, and some sat down, singing and chanting. The police arrested 33 women on charges of criminal trespassing.
“We wanted to tell the Republican leadership that inaction or a vote against immigration reform is hurting women and families,” said Pramila Jayapal, a co-chairwoman of We Belong Together, the group organizing the event.
On Friday, Kirby Wilbur, a former chairman of the Washington Republican Party, jumped into the debate on Twitter, saying the demonstrators were “left wing witches and hags” who “look so old and ugly.”
Republican leaders in the state quickly disavowed the tweet. “The ghost of Kirby Wilbur has no influence on the Washington State Republican Party,” said Keith Schipper, a spokesman.
Mr. Diaz-Balart, who also faced protesters this week, said the bill he is working on would not offer any special treatment or access to citizenship for illegal immigrants. He said he was trying to attract at least 117 Republican votes — a majority of the caucus — and Democratic support. He expected the House to pass at least a half dozen other measures. “I’m as optimistic as I’ve ever been about the chances of getting this done in this Congress,” he said.
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