Jewish group to Eric Cantor: Remember your Lithuanian grandmother

Group makes appeal to Jewish top Republican ahead of vote on immigration reform.

Eric Cantor 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Eric Cantor 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
WASHINGTON – Talk about a guilt trip: A small US Jewish group is telling House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to remember his Lithuanian grandmother before denying Congress a full vote on immigration reform.
Pressing down on Republicans and Democrats alike to make the issue a priority, the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is reminding congressmen of a moral imperative to tackle the broken system and that their ancestors were migrants, says the group.
The grandmother of Cantor (R-Virginia), the highest ranking Jewish member of Congress, immigrated to the US from Lithuania in 1907, the organization points out, citing publicly available records.
“Ms. Baker lived with her brother, a dry goods merchant, and three of her sisters,” the group’s report asserts. “In 1920, Baker was one of 14 people who lived under one roof in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, before moving to Baltimore.”
On numerous occasions since the summer, Cantor has publicly reasserted that the House will not take up the Senate bill as it was passed, but would address a series of smaller bills “on our terms” – addressing border security, Republican lawmakers’ foremost concern regarding immigration policy.
Cantor has acknowledged his ties to the immigrant experience.
“My family’s story, like so many, began when my grandparents fled anti-Semitic persecution in Russia to come to America,” he has said.
The Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, a network of 26 NGOs, appeals to Democratic congressmen, as well, who are already on record in support of the immigration reform push, but have no power to bring a vote to the floor as the minority in the chamber.
“My ancestors immigrated to this country in search of freedom and greater opportunities,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (DFlorida), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is quoted saying in the report. “I believe that those important principles are still alive today, and that is the reason why so many immigrants desire to come to this great nation.”
Most Democrats in the House of Representatives need no convincing that Congress should address immigration reform by the end of the year. In an address made from the White House last week on the issue, US President Barack Obama called for a vote on the reform bill that has passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
“It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead,” Obama said on Thursday. “It’s not smart. It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense. We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Wednesday that he hopes his caucus will be prepared to act on immigration reform by the end of the year, though he did not propose a vote on the comprehensive Senate bill.