How immigration reform advocates are trying to sway lawmakers' opinions right now

A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands near a crossing to Mexico at the San Ysidro port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, Calif., on April 4, 2013.

Immigration reform found bipartisan support in the Senate, but it’s gotten nowhere fast in the House of Representatives. Progress on the issue has ground to a halt during the August Congressional recess. But advocates on both sides are using this time to pressure lawmakers to re-think their positions. Here are some of their strategies for changing opinions:

  • Emphasize more jobs: Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain helped create the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate. He says the bill will reduce unemployment, add to Arizona’s income and create thousands of jobs.
  • Enlist business support: McCain recently spoke at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, where he pressed business leaders to get involved and voice their support for immigration reform.
  • Tap frustrated business travelers: The U.S. Travel Association wants business travelers to demand more customs and immigration agents at airports to reduce the wait times. After all, international visitors bring billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. The funding for more TSA personnel is included in the Senate’s reform bill.
  • Take to the airwaves: The National Association of Manufacturers paid for one-minute radio ads to run in seven states -- including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. It is "designed to educate the public and encourage listeners to call their members of Congress to voice their support."
  • Take battle to opponents' turf: Supporters of immigration reform are pressing Republican opponents to reconsider. Some efforts focus on Republicans viewed as vulnerable because they represent districts with large Hispanic populations. On Wednesday, activists will march near the Bakersfield office of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
  • Stoke fears that it could get worse: Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is trying to convince Republicans in the House to reconsider the immigration bill he helped to create. He warns his colleagues that if they don’t act on this immigration package, President Obama might be tempted to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants by executive order.
  • Republican counter-offensive: While supporters of immigration reform travel around the country to raise support, Republicans opposed to the deal are also hitting the road. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who has equated undocumented immigrant children with drug mules, recently brought his message to Virginia.
  • Propose alternative legislation: If you don’t like a law, go write one of your own. House Republicans who oppose a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are working on an alternative. Though they haven’t finished writing it, the bill is expected to allow the children of undocumented immigrants to become legal residents. But legal status would not apply to immigrants who entered the country as adults.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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