House Republicans prevailed Thursday in passing a bill that seeks to block President Barack Obamas executive actions on immigrationbut they also dug themselves an even deeper hole with Latinos who viewed the vote as a personal attack.
We know Republicans want to make this about the president, executive overreach and the Constitution, said Lorella Praeli, director for advocacy and policy for United We Dream. But let me be clear, this bill doesnt actually punish the president; it punishes our families. So for us, this is personal.
Praeli joined several immigration advocates and Democratic lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol building prior to the House vote. Praeli warned that a vote to approve the bill would be a direct attack on immigrants who stand to benefit from deportation reprieve under Obamas executive actions, including her mother who has been living in the United States for 16 years.
Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, deputy vice president of the National Council of La Raza, was also at the press conference. She warned Republicans that by passing the bill, they would further damage their relationship with Latinos ahead of the 2016 presidential elections in which the Latino vote is expected to play a significant role.
They should remember that this is not a fight between Republicans and the president, Martinez-De-Castro said, referring to House Republicans. They will be picking a fight with the millions of American families who will finally find some relief.
Despite the warnings by immigration advocates, House Republicans voted and passed the bill with a 219-197 vote. The bill, introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), states that Obama cannot categorically exempt undocumented from deportation. The Senate is not expected to take up the bill and White House already indicated Obama would veto it.
The bill mainly drew votes from Republicans. But there were a few GOP leaders who voted with Democrats against the bill. Among them were Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado, Jeff Denham of California, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and David Valadao of California. All of them represent heavily Latino districts.
In a joint statement released after the vote, Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen stressed the need to pass an immigration reform bill.
We continue to believe that the only legal and permanent solution is for Congress to pass legislation that will strengthen our borders, adhere to the rule of law, offer a humane solution to those living in the shadows, modernize our visa system and bolster the economy, the two Florida lawmakers said in their statement.
Immigration advocates applauded Republicans who voted against the bill. They also vowed to remind Latino voters during the 2016 presidential elections what lawmakers stood for real solutions on immigration and what lawmakers stood in the way of progress on the issue.
The next election is a presidential one that will bring out a much more energized Latino electorate, Cesar Vargas, director of the DREAM Action Coalition, said in a statement. We will remember what Republicans do and say today in 2016.
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