The GOP-controlled U.S. House is poised to jettison a bipartisan Senate bill on immigration with funding for Ukraine in its war against Putin's aggression as collateral damage. As Historian Heather Cox Richardson notes, immigration is the GOP's last best weapon for
defeating President Biden, after quarter after quarter of strong economic growth, and voter backlash following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Republican House leaders are taking their marching orders directly from the presumed GOP nominee and party puppeteer who has resurrected his 2020 playbook demonizing immigrants ("poisoning our country's blood", Mexican rapists), framing the border as a law enforcement issue and blaming Biden for inaction on needed reforms.
In truth, according to the Migration Policy Institute, in his three years in office, Biden has taken 535 immigration actions, outpacing executive-level actions during his predecessor's entire term. These efforts have contributed to increased legal immigration, including refugees; a new border process to discourage illegal border crossings; the extension of temporary humanitarian protections to hundreds of thousands of migrants, and the establishment of enforcement priorities on specific groups of unauthorized immigrants. Biden's mistake was relying on Congressional funding for implementation of many of these short-term reforms. Immigration reform, particularly at the southwest border, remains a quagmire requiring comprehensive and long-term policy reform--- all unlikely until the DEMS regain a House majority. The GOP prefers rhetoric and antics, like the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, to real action, especially if it results in any credit going to Biden.
Immigrants -- both voluntary and enslaved -- built this country and continue to contribute to its economic success. Immigration has been credited with helping to reduce inflation, fueling economic growth, and other positive fiscal impacts in think tank reports spanning the political spectrum. Immigrants fill jobs in industries with critical labor shortages -- healthcare, child- and eldercare, farming, food service and hospitality, and manufacturing. Immigrants also create jobs, launching new businesses at twice the rate of native-born Americans. Immigrants continue to come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their families. They deserve a clear path to legal entry and citizenship.
Take action now to support bipartisan immigration reform. U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, who represents us in the House, has voiced his support for the Mayorkas impeachment, as well as Texas' efforts to defy a Supreme Court decision against its overreach in enforcing border security. Let him know you expect him to support the Senate's bipartisan bill when it is finalized along with funding for Ukraine. Immigration should not be used as a political cudgel. Email him here or call his Jacksonville office at (904) 831-5205. It's also important to contact Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio since GOP back-peddling could threaten the passage of a bipartisan bill. Tell them you expect them to do the right thing and support the final bill as well as funding for Ukraine. Email Scott and Rubio, or call their local offices (Scott (904) 479-7227; Rubio (904) 354-4300).
Meanwhile, in Tallahassee. . .
We tagged along with the Jax NOW group last week on its visits to lawmakers in Tallahassee. There were definitely highs and lows as we discussed abortion rights, sensible gun laws, voting, public education, and our priority bills. It was eye-opening to see the lack of knowledge and critical thinking on many of these issues and to hear our elected representatives rotely espouse positions counter to the interests of their constituents. Thankfully, we were also buoyed and awed by the advocacy of partner groups like Moms Demand Action and the League of Women Voters, as well as the commitment and tenacity of supportive lawmakers who fight against the GOP supermajority to protect our rights. We were able to drop off a summary of BAM's legislative priorities and related bills at the offices of Sen. Clay Yarborough and Rep. Kiyan Michael before speaking to their aides, although Michael (above) managed to find time for a photo op.
The visit reinforced the fact that elections at all levels matter. And, very importantly, our advocacy matters! Apart from one, none of our Republican leaders would meet with us in person. The overall vibe at the Capitol seemed more reserved than last session; aides were overheard complaining about how many people were calling/writing/coming to see the legislators. So please know this: when you call, write, email, or visit, they are keeping track--and your efforts are very much worthwhile! State legislators need to be held accountable. And we need to elect people who are willing to work to address the needs of their constituents.
Share Your GOTV Priorities for the Spring Summit
BAM and Indivisible Mandarin are planning a summit of like-minded, nonpartisan groups in early May 2024! The purpose of this summit is to strengthen collaboration around GOTV activities, particularly for under-represented and disenfranchised groups; to engage and motivate our members, and to adopt and amplify common messaging. Our goal is to create an agenda for action and to identify groups committed to leading and supporting implementation strategies.
We need your input! Take this quick, online survey to help us identify three or four topics to brainstorm strategies in small groups and develop common Get Out the Vote (GOTV) activities during the summit. We will also be sending the survey to partner organizations. We value and appreciate your ideas!
Mark Your Calendar!
If you’ve ever fantasized about replacing Rick Scott with someone who actually shares your values, you should join us on Thursday, March 14 at 7pm via Zoom. BAM and Indivisible Mandarin are hosting a Zoom conversation with Florida U.S. Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. DMP, as she is known, will share her priorities and game plan for defeating Rick Scott, the GOP incumbent and former governor. Scott, labeled "one of the least popular Florida politicians" among voters in the state, is seeking his second term in the Senate. Click on graphic below to RSVP and receive the ZOOM link.