As President Obama, right, and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, left, continue to battle over the budget and a pending government shutdown, the issue of immigration reform passage keeps getting moved to the backburner. (Photo : Reuters)
With time running out on the year and an impending government shutdown, immigration reform advocates are continuing to stay the course as they plan for nationwide demonstrations on Oct. 5 calling for the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Passage of immigration reform has dominated the political sphere ever since President Obama garnered a record amount of the Latino votes from around the nation during the November 2012 presidential election. However, the immigration reform debate has taken a backseat thanks to two major issues on Capital Hill's horizon--the situation in Syria and the looming government shutdown.
As of Monday afternoon, mere hours remain before more than 800,000 federal workers would be furloughed, or forced to take an unpaid leave of absence, impacting federal services across the board and prompting the suspension of regular activities in some cases.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have been pushing on the issue in an effort to force the delay or defunding of the Affordable care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare," the healthcare-oriented legislation passed in 2010, which is considered President Obama's biggest achievement.
The budget and the threats of government shutdown have been a big part of what has pushed immigration into the background in the last few weeks.
"[The] budget fights are important and Obamacare is incredibly important," U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate's "Gang of Eight" that sponsored the bill, told Newsmax in a Sept. 18 interview. "The national debt and the debt limit is going to be incredibly important. Those issues are time sensitive. Immigration's a big issue but these issues are bigger and that's why the focus is on those issues right now."
With so many issues jam-packing the agenda, comprehensive immigration reform could be delayed even further.
The conundrum facing Republicans on the looming shutdown is not unlike the one facing them in the immigration reform debate. The GOP, who voted down an immigration reform bill proposed by President Bush in 2007, have been looking to make inroads within the Latino voting populace after being dealt huge defeats in the polls in the 2012 elections, particularly in key battleground states such as Florida and Colorado.
While the best way to do that may be to pass the Senate's "Gang of Eight" immigration bill that would grant millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. a pathway to citizenship, hardliners in the Republican Party are still opposed to granting what they deem as "amnesty" to immigrants living in the country without authorization.
However, Rich Beeson, the political director for Romney's presidential campaign, feels that the issue is something that Republicans must tackle.
"We need to find solutions to these problems, not just continue to find the problems in every possible solution, thereby supporting nothing and ensuring the status quo remains the same," Beeson told CNN.