The union argues the policy undermines ICE’s ability to enforce duly enacted immigration law and that it has been at the heart of the friction with Napolitano, as well as Morton.
Meanwhile, the National ICE Council is one of several groups opposed to a comprehensive immigration bill that have raised their voice recently.
NumbersUSA, which backs immigration cutbacks, is in the midst of a six-figure radio and TV ad campaign that will target as many as a dozen senators in the coming weeks.
The group has already run ads criticizing Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and on Wednesday it unveiled another round of ads aimed at Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. Ads targeting 10 more senators around the country are in the works.
“What really gets the juices going and turns this into a white-hot grass roots issue is when there’s an actual bill and it shows up in the Judiciary Committee and on the floor,” said NumbersUSA President Roy Beck.
Beck said his group’s membership has grown to 1.7 million, four times more than in 2007, when immigration critics last helped defeat a bill.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform has challenged the four GOP members of the Senate’s eight-member immigration working group to submit to interviews during the group’s annual gathering of talk show hosts in mid-April. The so-called Hold Their Feet to the Fire broadcast will draw 50 talk show hosts and 25 to 30 sheriffs to Washington, D.C., on April 17 and 18.
FAIR has invited numerous elected officials to the forum but is particularly focused on the GOP Senators in the working group: Graham, Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, and Florida’s Marco Rubio. Rubio has been particularly closely watched as a potential 2016 presidential candidate who has sent mixed signals on immigration.
“The question this year is whether Rubio, McCain, Graham and Flake will come to interview with talk hosts who have traveled across the country to consider their plans,” said FAIR Communications Director Bob Dane in an email. “Will they engage or evade the forum?”
FAIR also will bring activists from around the country to fan out across Capitol Hill and remind members “that they want true immigration reform and not amnesty,” Dane added in an interview. In 2007, the talk show town hall helped flood the Capitol switchboard with anti-immigration bill calls, he noted.
“I believe this event will be the game changer,” Dane said. “It’s the formal start of when the American public gets on the field and starts playing the game.”
But the political dynamics have changed following an election that saw Latino voters flock to Democrats and prompted GOP soul-searching on immigration.
Opponents of a sweeping overhaul also face massive demonstrating and lobbying by advocates on the other side, including labor, Latino and religious leaders.
Even as FAIR’s talk hosts gather April 17, evangelical Christians are planning a rally in D.C. to call for a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.