While anti-immigration groups struggle to wrangle together enough supporters to rally at town halls, pro-immigration reform organizations have been busy walking 285 miles from Sacramento to Bakersfield, Calif., practicing civil disobedience outside of ICE detention facilities in Arizona and gathering in droves in GOP congressional leader's districts.
The recess is starkly different from the spring of 2007 when Sen. John McCain's, R-Ariz., town hall meetings devolved into screaming matches and enraged constituents flooded congressional offices with faxes and phone calls.
"The dismal showing of anti-immigrant activists this August recess only shows the amazing traction our movement has – business, faith, labor, civil rights, and the immigrant community stand united for real immigration reform that protects our families from senseless deportations by providing a clear path to citizenship," says Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, a pro-immigration advocacy group. "DREAMers defined the debate and won the American people over."
It is true that public opinion has evolved quickly. A Washington Post/ABC News poll in July showed 55 percent of Americans support the Senate's path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who entered the country illegally, but it is still unclear whether the strong recess showing will be enough to convince GOP lawmakers at the top it is time to push for a path to citizenship for immigrants.
On Capitol Hill, the advocacy groups' actions are not making much of a difference. Key staffers say leadership is sticking with its promise to pursue immigration reform with a piecemeal approach.
Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who hails from a 35 percent Latino district has seen an influx of immigration supporters at his Bakersfield, Calif., headquarters, but has not embraced a path to citizenship.
And House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who has ushered individual immigration bills through his committee, has drawn a line against a "special path " to citizenship for immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally already, but left the door open to some sort of legal status.
At a town hall meeting in Verona, Va., Goodlatte told a crowd he was committed to pursuing enforcement measures first "even if it doesn't go all the way through to be signed by the president."
The silver lining for pro-immigration advocates is that while leaders in the GOP don't appear to be budging, a few rank-and-file members have taken the opportunity to show they are willing to consider citizenship. for immigrants who are in the country illegally.
Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., told constituents at a town hall meeting that after a "probationary period" and paid back taxes, immigrants could be put on a path to citizenship.
"I think there needs to be a secure border, and I think when that happens and people have paid their back taxes and they haven't committed any violation of laws, they've been here on a probationary period, then they can apply for citizenship and go to the back of the line," Schock said. Although, his spokesman says that Schock did not definitively come out in support for a "path to citizenship."
And Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., also told the Orlando Sentinel that a path to citizenship had to be included in an immigration bill if it was going to make it the president's desk.
"More and more Republicans are listening to the American people and our community," Jimenez says. "If they don't deliver immigration reform, there will be a staggering political price to pay."