Latino Groups: Immigration Reform By 2014 — Or Else

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Get your fiscal kicks in now, Congress, because as soon as the next term starts Latino groups expect an all-out push for immigration reform. A coalition of labor and activist leaders warned on Wednesday that anything less will lead to a backlash.

“We have built significant political power that’s only scratched the surface,” Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, told reporters at a news conference. “We intend to continue to build that power, to grow that power, and now we intend to use it to advance comprehensive immigration reform.”She added that La Raza and its allies “fully expect” a comprehensive bill with a path to citizenship could be completed by the 2013 August recess.

“We think there’s a real window of opportunity early next year,” Murguia said.

Participating groups, which included the SEIU, the Hispanic Federation, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, NALEO Education Fund, Voto Latino, and Mi Famillia Vota, announced plans to grade individual members of the House and Senate on their performance over the next year. Those who didn’t pass muster could face pressure campaigns and focused Latino turnout efforts in the 2014 midterms.

“In case Congress is hard of hearing, we want to remind the House and the Senate that our voices will become stronger now, in 2014, as well as into the future,” SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina said.

All indications are that the White House plans to put immigration at the top of its legislative agenda in 2013 and a number of Republican leaders have suggested they’re open to hammering out a bill. But there are plenty of obstacles that could derail a deal, including Republican opposition to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, skepticism of a comprehensive bill versus a piecemeal approach, and a potential backlash from the GOP base, especially for House members.