A coalition of Latino advocacy groups will begin grading members of Congress on their efforts to pass a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws, leaders said during a Wednesday press conference.
The report cards will be issued in advance of the 2014 elections “to make sure that our community understands who stood with us and who stood against us,” Ben Monterroso, the executive director of Mi Familia Vota, told reporters. “That way they will be properly informed when they vote.”
“Candidates who ignore this voting block do so at their own peril,” added Max Sevillia, director of policy and legislative affairs at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
It’s a threat that could resonate with Republicans after an overwhelming majority of the 12.5 million Hispanics who voted supported Democrats in November. Republicans have said immigration reform could be a key component to wooing that voting bloc next cycle.
The activists are calling for a comprehensive bill that would create a path to citizenship for undocumented workers already here. They also want Congress to pass the DREAM Act, remove barriers to naturalization and incorporate measures to promote assimilation.
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, was optimistic lawmakers would have the political capital to pass an overhaul before Congress adjourns in August.
Members of Congress and the president will be rated on “how aggressively they championed comprehensive immigration reform or whether they tried to block it,” according to the coalition.
The groups will also host a series of immigration-focused fly-ins this spring. The NCLR will bring as many as 500 activists to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers in March. The coalition is working with African-American, labor and even business groups to help make its case.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.