'US immigration reform is not dead'

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jun 13 2014 03:36 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2014 11:36 PM

WASHINGTON D.C. – A day after immigration reform was pronounced dead by pundits, Democratic members of the US Congress say, "Not so fast."

“I don’t think dead,” California Democratic US Representative Mike Honda said. “Comprehensive immigration reform is dead because Cantor lost his face? He still serves until the end of term, and he may have given up his leadership position but that doesn’t mean his influence has gone.”

“Frankly, we never thought Eric Cantor was an ally for immigration reform,” Rep. Eric Swallwell (D-Calif.), said. “He never allowed the votes that we wanted to come forward on the issue so, I guess we never thought it was going to get worse than it is today. But perhaps we have taken a harder turn to the right.”

Though the Senate’s immigration reform bill passed with a strong majority last year, the House version has been stalled.

But Filipino-American congressman Bobby Scott believes that immigration reform can still pass in Congress.

“The immigration reform is extremely popular,” Scott said. “If the Senate bill were brought up for a vote, it would pass the House. It is extremely popular even in Republican districts. So if we just bring it up, we can pass it.”

Honda says the 218 votes needed to get it passed are attainable.

“We need 218 votes,” Honda said. “We got 197 Democrats, 3 Republicans, that’s 200. We need 18 votes, and we just have to have Boehner put it on the floor.”

With immigration reform stalled in Congress, many undocumented Filipinos have pinned their hopes on the Department of Homeland Security to finally grant Temporary Protected Status to Filipino nationals in the US following Typhoon Yolanda. But it has been six months since the Philippine government requested TPS and it has yet to be granted.

“I asked the Secretary of Homeland Security before the Judiciary Committee a couple of weeks ago,” Scott said. “I asked them what’s the status of it was and he said they’re working on it. I encouraged them to work harder, so we’re optimistic.”

While many of these Democratic congressmen remain optimistic on immigration reform and the granting of TPS for Filipino nationals, they are also encouraging Filipino-Americans to do their part.

“You know, Pinoy Power is one of the things that help us move forward in this country,” Honda said. “Filipinos, we got telephones, right? We got emails. We got cell phones. We should call the Department of Homeland Security and ask them: So what’s up?”