Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Immigration activists make last push of the year for vote on reform

Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, National Council of La Raza

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro of the National Council of La Raza was one of the immigration activists who tried to deliver a letter urging Speaker John Boehner to schedule an immigration vote.

Congress shuts the door on 2013 this Friday, adjourning for the year as members fly home for the holidays. Activists are spending this final week reminding lawmakers they are leaving unfinished business on the table: immigration reform.

Activists tried to deliver a letter Tuesday to House Speaker John Boehner, signed by more than 200 organizations urging action on immigration reform. But because of the heavy snow that shut down much of the federal government, there was no one home. 

That scene was emblematic of the failure of activists to move the House to vote on a comprehensive immigration bill.

It's not for lack of trying. Activists have been fasting for nearly a month on the National Mall. Others sang immigration reform-themed lyrics to the tune of "Jingle Bells" at the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. A group of children put on a skit Monday with Boehner portrayed as the Grinch for not scheduling a vote on immigration. Nothing has worked.

But Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro of the National Council of La Raza is undeterred. She says lawmakers will be held accountable in future elections: "What they do in the next dozen months is going to shape Latino politics for the next dozen years."

Activists say the number of Latino voters jumped by a million and a half in four years – at a time when white voters dropped by 2 million.  Ben Monterroso, executive director of the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, says Latinos not only registered, but "our community turned out in record numbers in 2012 and will continue to do so." He says activists will be reminding voters of the actions of lawmakers on immigration. "Are they with us or against us?"

The challenge is that many of the House hardliners on immigration live in districts that have few Latinos and fewer Latino voters. 

The activism continues in California where a group of children will leave L.A. Wednesday to deliver a "naughty or nice" list to Republican Congressmen John Campbell of Irvine, Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita, Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, Gary Miller of San Bernardino, and Ed Royce of Fullerton. The children are expected to also bring stockings filled with lumps of coal to the lawmakers.


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