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Koch-Backed Initiative Supports Grassroots Immigration Reform


Daniel Garza

As the son of Mexican migrant workers and a veteran of the George W. Bush Administration, Daniel Garza has been frustrated by President Donald Trump’s hard-line approach to immigration.
To push back on it, he’s revving up a grassroots effort to lobby Congress, backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and, until recently, David Koch.
As head of the conservative mega-donors’ LIBRE Initiative aimed at Hispanics, Garza will be organizing five public rallies in the next week aimed at shaking loose a congressional stalemate on immigration, highlighting yet another looming deadline for courts to decide how to handle children who came to the country illegally.
“It’s been exhausting. It’s been frustrating. But there’s too much at stake just to give up and walk away. There are lives that are impacted by this. Too many communities, churches, American employers,” he tells TIME. “Of course, primarily, it’s these children who are American in every sense of the word except that they don’t have legalization.”
Garza and a staff of more than 60 aides have worked to build credibility in local Hispanic communities by conducting workshops several times a week to help immigrants — here legally and those here not — to pass their drivers’ license tests. Other courses help immigrants earn their G.E.D., learn English or even citizenship because, as Garza tells it, “you can talk about economic freedom and building a free society but in the marketplace, but millions of Latinos in this case are shut out of the marketplace because they don’t have a drivers license, or speak the language or have a diploma.”
At the same time, because of backing from the Koch Brothers, Garza knows that he can get a hearing from Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Whether it translates to progress, however, is still unknown. To this point, hardliners in the House have managed to repel efforts at broad change on immigration. Prospects for big legislation — especially with an election looming in November — are dim, and unrelenting negative coverage of the nation’s flawed immigration systems have moved few votes…
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