LatinaLista -- The minute Sen. Reid uttered the statement this morning "We won't get to immigration reform this work period," the mainstream news sites couldn't wait to announce that the Nevada Sen. had "backpedaled" on his promise to the Latino community.
Of course, the statement bewildered immigration advocates because over the weekend Sen. Reid announced his strong support of immigration reform at a rally in Las Vegas. It wasn't long before immigration reform leaders had to do some damage control on behalf of the Senator.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, and Chair of the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign, said in part in a press release:
Today's remarks by Senator Reid about what items will be slated for action during the current work period referred to Senate floor action. Senator Reid cannot bring a bill to the floor until it is drafted, introduced, and marked up by the Senate Judiciary Committee. That is the urgent work that is required during the current work period.
We call on Senators Schumer and Graham to complete their bill so that the Senate can act. The time for comprehensive immigration reform is NOW.
At the end of the day, Sen. Reid's office put out their own press release to clarify the Senator's remarks:
REID SPOKESMAN: IMMIGRATION REFORM IS A PRIORITY FOR THE SENATE
Washington, D.C. -JosÃ© Dante Parra, spokesman for Nevada Senator Harry Reid issued the following statement today restating Sen. Reid's strong commitment to have immigration reform legislation brought to the U.S. Senate floor this Congress:
"Sen. Reid has been consistent for months about his desire to pass an immigration reform bill that is tough, fair and practical. At the beginning of this Congress, Sen. Reid included immigration reform among the Senate's top priorities and that is where such reform remains. This reform must include strong and effective enforcement of our borders; a requirement that immigrants here illegally register with the government, learn English, pay taxes, pass criminal background checks, and get in the back of the line to earn legalization; and punish unscrupulous employers who abuse immigrants and undercut American workers.
"On Saturday in Nevada, he reaffirmed his unyielding support for such a bill. His commitment remains as firm today as it was Saturday, as it was in January of last year, and as it has been over the years he has taken on the challenge of fixing our broken system. Make no mistake, as soon as he gets a bill from Sens. Schumer, Graham and the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Reid will bring immigration reform to the floor of the U.S. Senate, and hopes Republicans will join Democrats in doing what's right for our country."
The range of emotions Sen. Reid's matter-of-fact comment elicited from immigration advocates underscores the raw exhaustion most people feel about being in the middle of an issue that is being tossed back and forth faster than a hot potato.
The immediacy that media outlets pounced on his statement, without clarifying his remarks with his office, as a sign that there is no real Congressional support for immigration reform underscores 1. The importance of the issue and 2. The cluelessness that exists about who or who does not support CIR.
While some Congressional representatives worry more about their political careers rather than commit to working on a bill that will help the nation regain a stronger foothold in its national security, financially benefit the weak economy and regain national stature as a nation that honors human rights, a new campaign by Reform Immigration FOR America will force these Capitol Hill representatives to take a public stand.
The campaign is called "Stand Up for Comprehensive Immigration Reform" and it will highlight the supporters and opponents of reform in the U.S. Senate on a "Change Takes Courage" list.
The campaign will encourage and call on Senators to state their position "on the record" in order to be counted either for or against reform this year. Coming out of the spring recess and the events of April 10th, the list has grown to twelve declared supporters, including Republican Senators Judd Gregg and Lindsey Graham, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Majority Leader Durbin, and Democratic Conference Leader Patty Murray.
The campaign will be pressuring Senators in the next few weeks to take a stand and will compile a list called "Leaders and Losers on their website so there can't be anymore cluelessness as to where a Senator stands when it comes to tackling the next big reform measure on Capitol Hill.
Perhaps there should be a second list: "Politicians and Legislators."
It doesn't matter if someone is opposed to the bill as much as it does that their opposition would blind them from refusing to work on a bill that needs both supporters and opponents' input if a strong bill is to be crafted, passed and withstand the test of time.
Anybody can be a politician but it takes skill to be a legislator.