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NY Delegation Could be Key for Immigration Reform Discharge Petition


Monday, March 31, 2014   

NEW YORK - It's a seldom-used tactic and a long shot, but supporters of comprehensive immigration reform say a discharge petition is the best weapon they have left - and the support of New York lawmakers could be key. It's a big number: 218 House members have to sign on for the discharge petition to work.

Ana Chireno, immigration organizer, Make the Road New York, said the state's 27-member delegation will be a crucial factor in getting enough signatures for the petition.

"This show of force - legislatively, it is a show of force - they're literally trying to force this vote. New York is very important because we can bump up those numbers. We can get many politicians to sign on," Chireno explained.

House Speaker John Boehner has been steadfast in his refusal to bring the immigration-reform measure to the floor. Chireno said if all of the Democrats in the House sign on, it will still require the signatures of about 17 GOP House members to force the vote.

Daniel Altshuler, coordinator, Long Island Civic Engagement Table, is one of the advocates tracking the House members ready to support the petition.

"We think it's really important that all of Long Island's elected officials sign this discharge petition to ensure a vote. Thus far, we have commitments from Tim Bishop, Carolyn McCarthy and Steve Israel that they either have signed or will sign the discharge petition," Altshuler said. "We have not heard from Rep. Peter King's office if he will sign."

Chireno made no apology for resorting to what some call a "last-ditch tactic." She said the issue is an important one to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and the House leadership refuses to listen.

"Immigration reform is just one example of how our Congress is essentially broken, so these are the antics we have to go through to even go through our democratic process," she said.

Advocates promised they would work to muster support for the petition in the coming weeks.

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