Almost two months after the deadline Sen. Charles Schumer had set for himself to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill on behalf of the Obama Administration, a congressman from New York called on the president to go forward with that initiative.
During a conference call Friday with immigration reform advocates, Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley, who represents parts of Queens and The Bronx, "stressed the urgency for action on a comprehensive solution to our dysfunctional immigration system," according to a press release from the New York Immigration Coalition.
"We need to maintain the momentum for comprehensive immigration reform, and I’m glad that we have advocates for reform who are willing to fight for what is best for our nation," Crowley said, according to the statement.
While Schumer missed his own deadline for introducing a reform bill in the Senate, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) has announced he will soon introduce his own initiative in the House. The bills differ greatly, since the senator’s focuses on a slew of enforcement measures and " a crackdown on illegal immigration," while Gutierrez’s stresses legalization for undocumented immigrants, family unity and humane enforcement.
Crowley led a group of 111 Democrats who in September sent a letter to Obama to express their willingness to work with him in pushing reform through Congress, a task that appears daunting.
"The other options maintaining the status quo or trying to force 12 million undocumented immigrants to leave the country are neither viable nor desirable," the lawmakers wrote. "We know you agree that action must be taken and we applaud you for starting the discussion on immigration reform by hosting a bicameral and bipartisan meeting on June 25th. Your leadership on this issue is invaluable, but please know we stand ready to help you."
The truth is the White House’s famously full plate has meant nothing much has happened since that June meeting. The administration handed the responsibility for drafting the proposal to Schumer and he has yet to announce a date for introducing his bill.
On Friday, Crowley said the letter was "a clear message" to Obama that Democrats and the pro-immigration reform camp "need his leadership" to advance this issue. "(We) stand ready to support comprehensive reform that balances our nation’s security needs with a realistic and humane solution for the estimated 12 million undocumented people already living in the United States," he said.
"A lot of good work is being done in Congress now, and I am looking forward to working with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Make the Road New York, and the New York Immigration Coalition, as well as advocates from across the nation, to keep the issue at the center of our work in Congress. This is a moral imperative the time is now."
Immigration advocates joined Crowley in the conference call. "Every day that passes without immigration reform is one more day in which our friends, neighbors, and loved ones have to live in deep worry and fear," said Javier Valdes of MTRNY, according to the press release. "Our community members are paying the price for our collective failure to fix this dysfunctional immigration system."
"Latino and immigrant voters made their voices loud and clear during the last election: they are demanding just and humane immigration reform for their communities," said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of NYIC. "These voters are growing impatient; they have high expectations for change."