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Letter No. 67: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 2/27/2014, 5:03 p.m.
Felicia Persaud

Dear Mr. President,

The Book of Deuteronomy’s passage that states, “Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans or widows,” jumped out at me this week as I, like thousands of advocates, church leaders and immigrants, looked for hope in the midst of what has been a disappointing last couple of weeks.

“What’s the next move?” is the question many groups are now grappling with in the face of House Speaker John Boehner insisting that immigration reform will not happen this year. Can the discharge petition floated by Sen. Chuck Schumer work?

From my vantage point, it seems like the only real option to making immigration reform a reality. But there has to be a targeted approach. I suggest, Mr. President, the Biblical approach—with an election year strategy of course.

The target of the “curse”? The 40 of the 232 Republican House lawmakers who come from districts that are more than 20 percent Hispanic. Once you can keep your 200 Democrats in line to vote on a bill using the discharge petition strategy, then all that is needed are 17 Republican members willing to say yes to immigration reform, break party line for the sake of their seat and circumvent the Republican majority in the House, bypass the regular committee process and help bring the measure directly to the House floor while also bypassing the regular committee process.

Those most vulnerable Republican lawmakers with a huge Hispanic voting population in their district must be targeted now ahead of the midterm elections, especially in the states of California, Florida and Texas.

The representatives are:

  • Cuban-born Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida’s 27th District, which is 73 percent Hispanic.
  • David G. Valadao of California’s 21st District, 72 percent Hispanic.
  • Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida’s 25th District, 70 percent Hispanic. Steve Pearce of New Mexico’s 2nd District, 52 percent Hispanic.
  • Blake Farenthold of Texas’ 27th District, 51 percent Hispanic.
  • Gary Miller of California’s 31st District, 49 percent Hispanic.
  • Devin Nunes of California’s 22nd District, 46 percent Hispanic.
  • Jeff Dunham of California’s 10th District, 40 percent Hispanic.
  • Howard McKeon of California’s 25th District, 38 percent Hispanic.
  • Doc Hastings of Washington’s 4th District, 37 percent Hispanic.
  • Paul Cook of California’s 8th District, 36 percent Hispanic.
  • Kevin McCarthy of California’s 23rd District, 35 percent Hispanic.
  • Randy Neugebauer of Texas’ 19th District, 35 percent Hispanic.
  • Edward Royce, California’s 39th District, 35 percent Hispanic.
  • Michael Conaway of Texas’ 11th District, 34 percent Hispanic.
  • Ken Calvert of California’s 42nd District, 33 percent Hispanic.
  • John Culberson of Texas’ 7th District, 31 percent Hispanic.
  • Duncan Hunter of California’s 50th District, 30 percent Hispanic.
  • Ted Poe of Texas’ 2nd District, 30 percent Hispanic.

The time to ramp up the lobbying of these representatives is now, ahead of the midterms. Advocates too must get out the message for Hispanic voters, and all immigrant voters must use their vote to send a clear message to the GOP, which is paralyzed by a small fringe group led by a Canadian-born man who, I’m ashamed to know, has immigrant roots in Cuba.

But Valadao, Denham and Ros-Lehtinen get it. It is why they support HR 15, along with the 190 co-sponsors. We now need to add the other 28 to get to 218 and achieve a majority in the House.

Time to round up the Democrats and use that phone, Mr. President!

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.