Perceived Trust and Political Tactics
By: Samantha Howland
Comprehensive immigration reform continues to plague the U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. society at large. 2013 saw tremendous momentum generated in support of immigration reform. Activists throughout the United States rallied together to pressure Congress to act. In June of 2013 the Senate passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act which outlined a path towards legal status for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals in the U.S., while simultaneously making changes to border security and the E-verify program, amongst others components. Despite the incredible efforts of activists, 2013 closed without a decision from the House.
Recently the House Republicans have stated “mistrust” in the Obama administration as a principle reason they cannot vote for immigration reform. Speaker Boehner has stated “We are going to continue to discuss this issue with our members, but I think the president’s gonna have to demonstrate to the American people and to my colleagues that he can be trusted to enforce the law as it is written.” This mistrust argument has received substantial criticism and backlash from Democrats and immigration activists.
President Obama has been viewed as both a supporter of immigration reform and an enforcer of current immigration laws, with over 369,000 deportations in fiscal year 2013. The president has publically stated his willingness to work with House Republicans on the issue of immigration reform and the need to simultaneously protect the border and address the needs of the 11 million undocumented individuals already in the U.S. Despite his best efforts, the House Republicans remain skeptical that he would enforce new laws if they were implemented under his administration.
In response, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md) characterized the Republicans’ distrust argument as “phony” and Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) warned that Republicans should prepare to face an aggressive new lobbying push from immigration reform advocates and even alluded to the fact that the Republicans will face a ‘blowout’ in 2016. Representative Xavier Becerra (D-Ca) issued similar sentiments and commented that, “there are folks who are very passionate about this, principally the folks who are going to be personally impacted by … watching Congress, specifically House Republicans, do nothing on immigration reform.”
Immigration advocates are responding in a similar fashion to the Democrats. They have promised to be present and vocal at Republican publicity events and meetings, in an attempt to demonstrate the support of immigration reform. Advocates continue to humanize the issue through the demands to “keep families together” and “building strong communities.” Social media, in particular Twitter has been a sounding board for various organizations to come together. To keep abreast of current news and actions follow #timeisnow #CIR #ready4reform #fast4families.