House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) said Tuesday that Latinos view President Barack Obama with “suspicion” since he has failed to advance immigration reform, an issue he initially vowed to make a reality in his first year in office.
“There’s a lot of suspicion, a lot of doubt, a lot of concern,” Becerra told Patt Morrison during an interview on KPCC-FM. “The president made a promise. He hasn’t fulfilled that promise. Rightfully, I think a lot of folks are questioning where the president’s priorities are.”
The highest-ranking Hispanic House Member later added: “I love the president. I don’t love everything he’s done.”
Obama last month renewed his commitment to pushing immigration reform this year and hosted meetings at the White House with grass-roots activists and leading lawmakers on the issue, including Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). But shortly after their meeting, Graham declared the issue dead for the year as a result of the rancor created by the health care reform debate.
To the contrary, Becerra said now is “actually the best time” to take on immigration reform because the underground system of illegal immigration is depriving the economy of tax dollars.
“The quicker you deal with it, the sooner the economy will recover,” Becerra said. Reforms will lead to “a far more stable economy that will help us create more jobs.”
Grass-roots proponents of immigration reform drew nearly a quarter-million people to Washington, D.C., last month for a rally in support of reforming immigration. Activists’ latest tack has been targeting GOP leaders to lend their support to the issue instead of their practice of staying out of it while Democrats duke it out.
“Republican leadership has been oddly silent,” Ali Noorani, chairman of the Reform Immigration for America campaign, said Wednesday.
Noorani’s group last month sent letters to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urging them to get behind comprehensive reform. Both GOP lawmakers replied that they were “unable to meet at this time,” he said.
“It just comes down to whether the Republicans are serious about the problems and the solutions this country wants to address. Boehner and McConnell are the leadership for their Republican Party. They have a responsibility both politically speaking and legislatively speaking to be part of the solution,” Noorani said.
Noorani said his organization has met with several Republicans in their districts who have said they are willing to get involved once immigration reform becomes a serious debate.