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Fight For Immigration Reform Follows Virginia Republicans To District Offices

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Tomas Martinez, of Atlanta, Ga., chants during a rally in front of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, calling for of immigration reform.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Tomas Martinez, of Atlanta, Ga., chants during a rally in front of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, calling for of immigration reform.

Congress is gone for the month of August, so local immigration advocates are planning to take their fight for reform to Republican district offices in Virginia.

During the last week Congress was in session, immigration groups stormed Capitol Hill, waving signs, threatening Republicans at the polls and holding sit ins, with dozens of protesters submitting to arrests. Much of their anger is directed at two Virginia Republicans: Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and Bob Goodlatte, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

"They're going to have a rude awakening because everywhere they go on vacation in their district offices, we're going to be there," says Jaime Contreras, vice president of a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union. "You know we're here to say have a nice vacation and when they go to the district we're also going to have protests at their district offices. But also when they come back we're going to be here also to remind them, 'Hope you're rested. Now get to work.'" 

Many Republicans say they aren't worried about the protests. Virginia Republican Morgan Griffith says the House is now having a substantive debate that can't be fit into a chant or banner. "Oh, it's a policy debate. I don't think the protests really do a whole lot to promote what they're trying to promote. In fact they may make it more difficult in some districts," he says.

Congress only has nine legislative days in August and it's most pressing concern is preventing a government shutdown and trying to rearrange sequestration, which means the window to deal with immigration may be quickly shrinking.

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