If the midterm elections taught me anything, it is that Latino voters want progress on the issues they care about. Also, the Latino voting bloc could be up for grabs in 2016 if Republicans can show that they care about Latino families. With immigration as the first test, we are seeing how much Republicans care about courting this rapidly growing part of the electorate.
"Everybody's exploring a lot of options. But I would prefer a way to go to court. And also look at specific appropriations bills," said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security committee said he plans to use "every tool at my disposal to stop the president's unconstitutional actions from being implemented." Meanwhile, the GOP leadership has closed the doors and dimmed the lights, but it's anyone's guess when they will lift the curtains.
Our ultimate hope is that Congress does its job and passes a bill. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AL) have called for Republicans to present the President with an actual bill. But will they win out over an overwhelming number of those in the party that care more about politics than people? Last week, during his Friday morning press conference, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) denounced the President, calling him an 'emperor' and labeling the action a 'constitutional crisis'. "We're working with our members and looking at the options that are available to us," Boehner said. He didn't have those same thoughts the numerous amount of times this type of action was used by every single president over the last half century.
Certainly, we could stop and reflect on the uncompromising determination of Republicans to say something but do nothing. Just last weekend I reached out to a leading Republican operative on national TV asking that we join together and get something done. It didn't go that well. All the while, as House Republicans play hot potato with how to turn back progress, millions of Americans still need comprehensive immigration reform to ensure that their families won't be torn apart.
The President made the decision to announce executive action because Congress had over 500 days to act. In that time, millions of hard-working immigrants were under constant threat of deportation and many had their families torn apart. The rhetoric from the Right implies that the President acted to get his way but let us be clear about one thing: the President acted to force the Republicans to act. The President saved 4.9 million people who are American in every way--they pay taxes, work hard, love this nation--but one: they don't yet have the right documentation.
Instead of engaging with the President on this issue, Republicans filed a lawsuit against the President alleging that his administration abused its power in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; further proof to the Latino community that Republicans aren't interested in the issues that we care about most. Indeed, according to a new Hart Research Poll, 76 percent of Americans support the temporary work permits aspect of the action and 66 percent support protecting the undocumented parents of children or young adults, so perhaps the Republicans aren't listening to anyone at all.
According to the same poll, 67 percent of Americans support the President's decision and more Americans say that they trust Obama on this issue more than they do Republicans in Congress. Threatening to shut down the Government or using the budget to halt the plan or by simply saying nothing, the GOP is damaging its legitimacy with our community and the American electorate at large.
The time to act on immigration is now and not just because the President is taking executive action. The time is now because, today, there are still millions of families living in fear, there are still billions of dollars in tax revenue to be able to be contributed, and there is a rapidly growing community that is closely watching this issue. Let me put the Republicans on notice: We will remember who was with us and who was against us on immigration when it comes time to vote in 2016.