Our View: Modesto immigration reform rally should inform voters, not alienate allies

June 26, 2014 

We’re not sure what will be accomplished by those who plan to spend Saturday morning walking southwest Modesto in an effort to pressure Congress to pass immigration reform. But we applaud nearly any effort to inform and inspire voters.

The need for immigration reform is indisputable. Illegal immigration from Mexico has slowed, but thousands from farther south are showing up along our southern border – including many unaccompanied children, some as young as 8 or 9. Sergio Lara, who is coordinating the activities for Mi Familia Vota, says the goal is to force a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on a bill passed a year ago by the Democrat-controlled Senate. A press release from Mi Familia Vota targets Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. Lara wants to push Denham to push Speaker of the House John Boehner to schedule a vote.

Good luck. Tea party primary candidates have rattled House leadership by knocking off Rep. Eric Cantor in Virginia and requiring Rep. Thad Cochran of Mississippi to turn to Democrats (gasp) for a narrow victory. Tea partiers adamantly oppose immigration reform, so it’s doubtful Boehner will antagonize them further by pushing for reform until after November.

Perhaps the rally’s real intent is to identify previously disinterested eligible voters and motivate them for November’s election.

But why target Denham? Of all the Republicans, he’s been among the most vocal in support of reform; he even authored the ENLIST Act to provide a quicker path to citizenship for immigrants who serve in the military – an effort we avidly support.

“There’s more he could do,” said Lara. “Our communities are still being deported and our families separated on a daily basis. At the end of the day, there hasn’t been any result yet. ... We recognize his efforts, but there’s still more that he can do.”

In actuality, Denham is doing more. “I appreciate the efforts of the organizers involved and wish I could be there to help them bring awareness to this important issue,” he said. “Unfortunately, I will be returning from a trip to the border to examine the security situation there myself on Friday, and on Saturday I am speaking at NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected Officials), the nation’s largest gathering of Latinos.”

The battle to enact immigration reform will require many, many allies. We believe Denham has been, and will continue to be, an important one.

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