USA Today –
WASHINGTON — As they prepare to leave the Capitol for a month-long August recess, Republican members of the House of Representatives are taking with them legislative summaries and informational packets to tackle tough questions in their districts about immigration.
Supporters of a proposal to revamp the nation’s immigration laws plan to use the recess to pressure House Republican members in their districts to pass a plan like that which passed the Senate in June.
Those in favor of granting citizenship to an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants say they will use rallies, marches, coordinated phone calls, social media campaigns and pressure from big-dollar donors.
“This is the beginning of a long, hot summer for the House of Representatives,” said Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union, a labor union that supports the Senate’s immigration bill.
Republicans will also face pressure from Tea Party groups and other opponents of the Senate immigration bill.
Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, says his group, which advocates lower levels of legal and illegal immigration, hosted a teleconference with Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Steve Stockman, R-Texas, and Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., on Wednesday night to rally opponents to mobilize for the August recess.
Beck said there were 40,000 people on the call.
“Obviously, they’ve got all of this money and all of these organizations and everything else, but we’ve got over 2 million members. We’re in every district,” Beck said. “And they’ve got a tough road to hoe. They’ve got to change representatives’ minds. We’re more in a situation of needing to hold people. It’s always better to try to hold people to a position.”
GOP leaders said Republicans are looking forward to facing voters on the issue.
“Our members will be well-prepared to talk with constituents about this important issue,” said Nate Hodson, a spokesman for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
House committees have passed five immigration-related bills that focus on enhancing border security, providing visas for high-tech and agricultural workers and enhancing the ability of state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws.
The Senate bill allows the nation’s unauthorized immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship, adds $46 billion to secure the border and revamps nearly every other portion of the nation’s immigration laws.
Supporters of an overhaul of immigration laws say House Republicans are focusing too much on border security and not on a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s undocumented immigrants, which is a focus of the Senate plan.
On Monday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to give a pro-immigration speech at the premier of the film Documented, which was directed by Jose Antonio Vargas, an immigration activist. A group of religious leaders will take a bus tour through Republican districts in the Midwest.
Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, which supports legalization of all unauthorized immigrants, said a coalition of groups will host 360 different events in 52 congressional districts around the country during the recess.
Meanwhile, some Republican donors and business groups will try to influence GOP members as well.