Group calls on Hastings to push for immigration reform vote

Tri-City HeraldJuly 2, 2014 

A group of 10 women, men and children rallied outside U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings' Pasco office late Wednesday morning, calling on the outgoing lawmaker to push for a vote on immigration reform.

The demonstrators chanted "Si, Se Puede," or "Yes, we can," the slogan of the United Farm Workers, and held banners and flags outside the Republican's office in a business complex near Columbia Basin College. They then went inside to issue a "red card" to Hastings' staff.

A red card is used in soccer by referees for serious offenses during a game and requires the player to leave the field.

"We're expelling him from the game," said Jorge Valenzuela, UFW's regional director. "(House Republicans) have expelled themselves from the game."

Staff at the Pasco office referred all questions to Hastings' Washington, D.C., office. A spokesman for the congressman declined to comment on the protest.

Immigration reform has been a contentious issue in national politics for years. House Majority Leader John Boehner recently announced he would not advance any proposed legislation on the matter the rest of this year. That's led President Obama to say he will seek to address the problem on his own.

Valenzuela said Hastings has signaled his support for immigration reform in the past. However, House Republican leaders have refused to bring a Senate-approved immigration reform bill to a vote and Hastings hasn't used his influence to push the issue. The group protested in front of his office in early June on the same issue.

"We're not asking him to tell other Republicans to support it, just put it up for a vote," Valenzuela said.

Lack of immigration reform has hurt immigrants in the Mid-Columbia for decades, said Mary Lopez, a Walla Walla organizer with the immigrant advocacy group One America.

It's particularly hard on young children, who can find themselves separated from their parents and then in foster care, and students, who may benefit from Washington's recent decision to help with higher education costs but still face hurdles at the federal level and when looking for a job.

"We don't want to hear any other excuses," Lopez said.

Hastings' term expires at the end of this year and he is not seeking re-election. Eight Republicans, two Democrats and two independents are vying for his seat.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

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