Although immigration reform is currently at the back of the line, there is still hope for reform. Worries about opposition groups putting heat on House Republicans during the August recess turned out to be misguided. Republicans faced much less pressure than expected, but instead of leveraging that lack of opposition into legislative movement, the House has allowed Syria and other issues to derail the previous momentum.
Luckily, the public hasn’t forgotten completely about immigration. Business leaders and advocacy groups noticing the congressional lull have begun reviving legislative interest among members of Congress. State congressmen have been contacting their national counterparts, urging them to move on with more bills in the House of Representatives.
Republicans aren’t the only ones being pressured to act. President Obama put a lot of political capital into passing reform; failing to pass such reform would reap disfavor from the Hispanic community and traditional liberal groups such as the AFL-CIO and would strike many as yet another failure to pass legislation he favored. Although not all voters may agree with his policies, the president’s inability to pass gun legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre and his indecisiveness concerning Syria are doing nothing to change his image as one who “leads from behind.”
Now that the Syrian situation seems to be at a tentative stopping point, both the president and Congress have the incentive to return to immigration reform. House Republicans have been hearing much less anti-immigration feedback than they were expecting; they’re also hearing positive support for reform. President Obama thus has a vested interest in passing something (perhaps by October) so as to be able to point to one legislative success after months of turmoil; if the president isn’t able to pass immigration reform legislation, the states may take matters into their own hands.
We should know within the next three to four weeks whether reform will be shelved completely or brought back into the discussion. Renewed pressure from business leaders, advocacy groups, and constituents is making members of Congress reevaluate letting the chance for reform pass by. More attention in the media and across op-ed pages can revive the legislation and convince Congress that it is worth taking up immigration reform again.