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Immigration Reform Goes Home

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A photo of Jose, who came to the United States when he was 17 and is living in this country without legal authorization. During August's congressional recesss, legislators will return to their home districts to hear from their constituents on the next steps for immigration reform (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

By Andrew Wainer

The locus of the immigration debate moves from the Capitol to town halls across the country this week as legislators go home to hear from their constituents on the next steps for reform.

On the Republican side, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) sent House Republicans into the August recess with a detailed memo advising them how to talk about immigration reform with voters back home.

The “Immigration Resource Kit” provides talking points for lawmakers, among other August recess tools. Representatives enter the recess with no clear path forward on immigration, although Republican leaders are indicating that some legislative remedy for undocumented immigrants is being formulated.

Influential GOP Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is also emerging as a leading proponent for a path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants. Ryan has indicated that he supports some path to legalization for immigrants.

Proponents of a less restrictive path to legalization for immigrants, akin to the bill passed in the Senate this summer, will also be working “in-district” this August.  Organizing for Action (OFA) will include immigration reform as part of its major advocacy push in August  (another focus will be generating support for the president’s health-care law).

The August recess will certainly be important in terms of influencing representatives’ views on immigration, but the House is unlikely to actually take up legislation on immigration before October. In the meantime, advocates – including faith-based advocates – will be making the case for immigration reform both in and outside Washington.

Andrew Wainer is Bread for the World Institute's immigration policy analyst.


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