Nudging the Opposition Off Their Immigration Talking Points

Perhaps it’s just too darn logical that actually listening to the very people who drive our economy, who know something about business, and spending, about costs would be vital during this national debate on immigration reform. Small business owners have been outspoken proponents of comprehensive immigration reform—and for good reason.

Enter Andres Cascante.  Cascante’s testimony at a Bloomfield, NJ town hall meeting on June 30 seemed to snap his Republican Congressman, Rodney Frelinghuysen off of his partisan talking points memo.

Cascante related his story of arriving in the U.S. at the age of 12—thinking he was going on vacation, and then realizing his parents had intended to stay after their visas expired. That event set him in motion to work his way through college, struggling to pay for tuition, and finding himself the owner of a successful restaurant.

While Cascante has since been naturalized, his perspective on what it takes to run his business, to see the turnover of his U.S. born employees, and his need for consistent staff to provide a quality product is borne from his experience of living in the shadows for so many years.

His testimony prompted Rep. Frelinghuysen to offer a round of applause, and to note that he is not ‘ready to endorse’ the legislation, but that he’d take a look at it.” One could speculate that Frelinghuysen is one of the Republicans in the House that Speaker John Boehner is concerned about, ones who are leaning toward compromise on the Senate bill that passed last week 68-32.

Moreover, as heartfelt and honest testimony nudges the opposition off their talking points during the current Congressional recess, how far behind the vote can the House really be? It’s not the votes that count. It’s the Republican House passing a bill without the majority of Republicans behind it.

Boehner and the House Majority also seem opposed to the central tenet of the Senate Bill, a clear path to citizenship.

So they talk about passing a bunch of pieces of legislation as stand alone but separate policies – a procedure that is sure to doom much of reform. They also rely more and more on procedural excuses for not putting a comprehensive reform bill on the House floor. The Speaker, who has had little success in moving much legislation through the Congress during his tenure, seems more concerned with proving that Republicans can stand together, rather than pass legislation that would benefit future Americans. It would seem that a vote that doesn’t need a majority of Republicans contradicts the very notion of ironclad cohesion among conservatives.

The Speaker goes on to say that whatever comes out of the House, “”It’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people.” A rather disparaging remark, hinting that the Senate Bill as something other than the will of the people.

Let’s take a moment and be clear—the immigration bill that Senate passed is worse than perfect. This is not the time to increase unnecessary spending on a border that has already been militarized at levels unseen in our history (even following our war with Mexico). Nor is it time to expand E-verify, a system that has been proven inaccurate and and that will be costly for small businesses.

Three cheers for Cascante for his testimony and for his success in rattling the opposition. It may have only been a nudge, but it certainly made the headlines.