Conservative Activists Will Descend On Washington To Push For Immigration Reform

They’re calling it a "fly-in."

From all around the United States, some 300 conservative leaders from various religious denominations, the agricultural industry, law enforcement and business sector are planning to travel to Washington on Oct. 28 to press Republican lawmakers to work on a comprehensive immigration bill, reported USA Today.

These conservative leaders feel that they can succeed in swaying these lawmakers where others so far have failed.

"I'm not an advocate of open borders. I'm not an advocate of blanket amnesty. I just see (undocumented immigrants) who are hurting and want to contribute to their family ... and the system is not working for them," USA Today quoted Jeremy Hudson, a pastor, as saying.

Hudson’s Fellowship Christian Church is located in House Speaker John Boehner's Ohio district. The USA Today report said that organizations involved in the fly-in are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Partnership for a New American Economy, which was founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and, co-founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech industry leaders who are pushing for more visas for highly-educated immigrants.

Though the front line in this particular offensive play for immigration reform comprises conservatives, organizers are groups that long have fought for changes in U.S. policy that would provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, which is helping coordinate the effort, said to USA Today that those who will be taking part represent "the conservative base of the Republican Party."

The few legislative days left for this year make it increasingly unlikely that any meaningful action will take place in Congress on immigration reform.

A comprehensive bill passed in June in the Senate, but the House has addressed the issue in fits and starts. Conservative members in the House say they will not rubber stamp the Senate bill, and they vow not to pass any measure that would provide “amnesty” to people who are here illegally.

Efforts to advance immigration reform legislation in the House stalled in the summer, as some Republicans, who control the chamber, vowed not to rubber-stamp the Senate version — they have expressed objections over allowing a pathway to legal status for many of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The other key part of the bill calls for tightening enforcement.

Several Republican leaders in the House said they preferred to deal with immigration through separate bills instead of one overarching one.

Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa who is known for having among the most hard line views on immigration in Congress, has been organizing an “immigration whip team,” according to The National Journal, to block any measure that would provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.

“Each day that has passed without floor action has been good for the rule of law and good for the rule of sovereignty,” King told the Journal.

It is that kind of recalcitrance that fly-in participants such as 70-year-old Idaho rancher Terry Jones, who belongs to the Tea Party,  hopes to strip away, USA Today said.

Jones said the current flawed immigration system is impeding his ability to find workers for his ranch. The difficulty of finding legal workers drove him to sell 700 daily cows and lease his land, the newspaper said.

"I was getting too old to fuss with finding the labor," Jones said, according to the newspaper. "We're not here wanting to break the laws. Heavens to Betsy, we've got stewardship of the land and our animals, employees we want to treat right and pay a fair wage to. But the government is just interested in ... who's going to get the credit, who's going to get the votes."

Proponents of strict immigration enforcement scoffed at the news of the fly-in.

The participants, they say, are not true conservatives.

Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a leading anti-illegal-immigration lobby group, said that not even evangelical groups participating in the new push are reflective of the conservative members of their church.

"They really don't represent the rank and file," Beck said, according to USA Today.