Updated 01:30 PM EDT, Tue, Oct 26, 2021

Immigration Reform 2014: Immigration Activists Wage Political War Against GOP, Say 'No Republican is Safe'

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Although immigration reform is presumed dead this year in the House of Representatives, immigration activists plan on continuing the fight for reform at congressional races nationwide. 

According to USA Today, immigration activists said Tuesday that they plan to shift the issue from Washington to congressional races, as well as press President Barack Obama to unilaterally curb deportations. 

Last week, House Speaker John Boehner announced that his caucus does not trust the president to enforce immigration laws, which makes immigration legislation unlikely to move forward in the House this year. A week prior, Boehner engendered optimism by releasing the GOP's immigration reform principles, making it seem as if they were going to move forward on the issue. 

But Members of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a nationwide coalition of immigrant-rights groups, said Tuesday they have not given up on immigration reform, and are determined to achieve their goals despite the GOP's intransigence.

During a news conference, FIRM members accused Boehner of appeasing far-right immigration reform opponents, despite national polls that show immigration reform is supported by a majority of the American public. The group believes Republicans need to pass reform legislation to be competitive in future presidential elections. 

Obama won the majority of Latino votes in 2008 and 2012, in large part because Republicans alienated many Latino voters by saying they are against "amnesty," or a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. 

"Persuasion only goes so far, and now, with Speaker Boehner casting doubt that he can actually deliver immigration reform, FIRM is switching tactics from persuasion to punishment," said Kica Matos, director for immigrant rights and racial justice at the group Campaign for Community Change.

"So, let me just be clear about one thing: From now on, any lawmaker who does not support comprehensive immigration reform should expect relentless and constant confrontations that will escalate until they agree to support immigration reform."

Matos said they will target Republicans in their home districts and in Congress. They will also gain political revenge by politically attacking House Republicans in swing districts with large Hispanic populations. 

"No Republican is safe," Matos said.

"If the House Republicans are going to protect people who are in ruby-red districts because they fear primaries, they are going to pay a price with Republicans who are in purple districts, even if they are supportive of reform," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-reform organization America's Voice.

However, while immigration activists want to exact political retribution, many political scientists are projecting that 2014 will be a good year for the Republican party. Boehner most likely wants to wait until after mid-term elections to move forward on reform, especially because many are hoping to gain control of the Senate. 

"The Democrats are not going to be in a stronger position after 2014 than they are now," predicted Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science and Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California-Irvine.

However, Sharry said he is confident that the immigration reform movement can lobby Obama "to take bold and immediate executive action to stop the deportations," of undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious crimes. 

Sharry said Boehner's belief that Obama can't be trusted is a "lame excuse," as Obama has already deported a great deal of immigrants-- the only president to deport more was President Bush. 

"We prefer it to be legislative. We prefer it for Republicans to share the credit," Sharry said. "But if they squander the opportunity, we're going to insist on President Obama to take immediate action."

"We're going to make sure we finally do win immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and the Republican Party will be on the outside looking in and will rue the day that they turned their back on a community that has the support of the American people."

However, some Republicans have called immigration activists' tactics counterproductive. Last week, Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona said "radical" immigration activists "show up and protest in front of a congressman's house and harass his family."

"Every time we walk outside, you end up with a group around you, cheering at you, chatting you up, pushing, pushing at you," Schweikert said Friday on Phoenix station KFYI-AM (550).

Regardless, immigration activists maintain that they will continue to push for immigration reform at both the state and federal level. 

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