Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform Dead?

Representative Gutierrez says yes.

By Aura Bogado Sep 20, 2013

Despite hopes to the contrary, the promise of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is all but dead in the House. The Senate had passed the Gang of Eight’s bill and handed it over months ago. House minority leader John Boehner (R-Oh.) made pretty clear his party wasn’t going to move on it–yet advocates continued to put pressure on Congress. 

But it seems that effort hasn’t paid off. Speaking to the Washington Post today, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) made it pretty clear:

"It doesn’t appear that we’re going to move forward with the group of seven," Dem Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a key player on immigration as a member of the gang, said in an interview with me. "The process is stalled. I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon."

When President Obama spoke about the overdue need for CIR in January, he said he wouldn’t waste any time:

[I]f Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.

But the president has let eight months pass without action on immigration reform since he made that statement–and it’s estimated that during that time, about a quarter of a million people have been deported. The president can use his executive power to curtail those deportations, but in an interview with Telemundo this week, he explained he has no interest in doing so.

While the news is surprising to some, rumors of the bills failure have been circulating for months. Tania Unzueta, an organizer with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, says she first found out about the news through social media. "I feel like we’ve been talking about it for a bit, even as immigrants rights advocates," she says. "But we continue to move on Plan A–asking president to take action to stop deportations."

Unzueta understands that Obama won’t stop deportations outright, but she says he has a lot of options–including putting a halt to the damaging Secure Communities program, altering the policy around who counts as a high-priority removal target under prosecutorial discretion, and changing the qualifications for who’s eligible for deferred action.

Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-Az) and Filemon Vela (D-Texas), meanwhile, introduced their own CIR bill in the House today. "This is not an issue that’s going away just because some people refuse to pay attention," warned Grijalva.