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This Week in Immigration Reform: The Debate Moves Outside the Beltway

A group of immigrants and activists for immigration reform, led by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and CASA, chant as they march to urge congress to act on immigration reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 26, 2013

House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte was one of the most active Congressmen in the immigration debate last week. In an opinion piece for the National Review, he described the piecemeal approach to reform as “building a strategic playbook.” Goodlatte also released an “Immigration Resource Kit” memo for his Republican colleagues. The memo outlines the five existing bills, covers how to talk about reform with constituents, and lists the “top 10 concerns about [the] Senate bill.” Goodlatte’s strategy remains popular among House Republicans, with Rep.  Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor touting the benefit of individual bills on the Sunday talk shows.

Before the halls of the Capitol cleared and congressmen returned to their districts, immigration reform activists took to the Hill. On Thursday, 41 high-profile advocates were arrested while protesting the House’s inaction on immigration reform. Another group continued to protest Steve King’s inflammatory comments about DREAMers, sending cantaloupes to all Representatives who voted in support of his amendment to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Protests were not limited to Washington. In Arizona, a group of nine DREAMers who were recently detained after attempting to cross the border drew attention from across the country.

But with Washington now relatively quiet, advocates on both sides of the battle are preparing for a very important August.

MSNBC and USA Today lay out a road map of some major players pushing for reform this summer, while The Atlantic profiles NumbersUSA as it tries to stop efforts it considers “amnesty.” The White House released more research highlighting the economic benefit of reform to individual states as tech lobbies like FWD.us and business leaders are pressuring both parties in the House for action.

But what remains unique to immigration reform in 2013 is the strong pro-reform voice conservative groups are contributing to the debate. As reported by the New York Times, “More than 100 Republican donors—many of them prominent names in their party’s establishment—sent a letter to Republican members of Congress on Tuesday urging them to support an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.” The American Action Network is also planning a campaign to “[deliver] positive and supportive messages to House Republicans to continue tackling immigration reform” and frame the economic need for reform.

Lastly, an important note as we approach the one-year anniversary of the DACA program. A federal district judge dismissed immigration hardliner Kris Kobach’s case against DACA, “[concluding] that his court did not have jurisdiction to decide the suit… because it was an administrative dispute between federal employees and the government.”

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