Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

House Republicans Are of Many Minds on Immigration

Are House Republicans prepared to pass an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in 2014?

It depends on whom you ask.

“It’s a very bad time to do anything on this,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said.

“Something has to happen on immigration, and it’s something we as a conference should take up,” countered Rep. Dennis A. Ross, R-Fla.

“I don’t know,” Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., admitted with a shrug. “It’s hard to say.”

Indeed, attempting to quantify the House Republican Conference’s collective appetite for pursuing polarizing legislation in an election year is a virtually impossible task — one that leaders have set for themselves as they head to their annual retreat starting Jan. 29 in Cambridge, Md.

To get their members energized and focused on the issue, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and his top lieutenants are about to unveil a set of principles for an immigration overhaul. They could be distributed to lawmakers as early as Friday, but likely not until lawmakers have settled into the retreat, sources say.

The principles aren’t expected to be revelatory and members are saying they anticipate the treatise to be repetitive of what leaders have said in the past: Namely, that the House won’t pursue an immigration overhaul bill that’s as comprehensive or wide sweeping as the Senate’s, nor will it go to conference with the Senate bill. And there will surely be an emphasis on securing the border and enforcing the law.

But the fight has always been over what to do with the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants and finding a sweet spot on that issue with which everyone can live.

Democrats and the White House have said they will balk at anything that doesn’t provide a promise that those 11 million people could one day obtain citizenship, while a certain contingent of House Republicans will revolt over anything that stops short of deporting them.

The good news for immigration overhaul advocates is that more and more GOP lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum appear to be growing receptive to giving undocumented immigrants a chance to receive legal status.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., suggested confining the conversation to legal status and withholding the citizenship pathway as the “penalty” could “move the ball in and of itself.”

Ross agreed there is a way to “allow for legal status … without giving anybody amnesty.”
A GOP leadership aide signaled that while there may still be a lot to hash out, the softening within the conference on the legal status question bodes well for what the principles could accomplish as far as building consensus: “Members are in a much different place than they were last year.”
Take the wild cards, such as Rep. Mark Meadows. Against the wishes of leadership, the freshman Republican from North Carolina led the charge to defund Obamacare in the continuing resolution last fall that culminated in the government shutdown; now, he’s breaking with his fellow hard-line conservatives to support a legal status for illegal immigrants.

“I’ve got farmers back in my district that feel like we have to deal with this immigration issue,” Meadows said. “They feel, by not acting, we’re making a decision.”

Other factions within the conference still present significant stumbling blocks to action on immigration.

The do-nothing crowd includes many who don’t want to give President Barack Obama any more leeway.

“I think we’re spinning our wheels in mud,” said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. “What we need to do is hold people accountable for their actions, make sure the rule of law’s upheld, and until we do that … I don’t know why we’re passing anything.”

Then there are some others, like Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, who were at one point working to pass an immigration overhaul but have given up.

“It’s an election year,” Carter explained. “Every state, as you move along, immigration is a very, very contentious issue.”

Others argue that the full chamber should consider the four piecemeal bills that have been passed out of the Judiciary Committee.

“Everyone understands we should secure the border, that we should have an E-Verify system that works, that high-skilled, high-tech STEM people who get educated by good universities should be able to work here, and everybody understands you need a guest worker program,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ticking off the list of bills.

“Let’s focus on those things,” Jordan continued. “Ask the president why he wants to hold up things everybody agrees with just because of the politics of the 11 million.”

Daniel Newhauser contributed to this report.

  • papal

    The folks do not support rewarding those that broke our laws. It is like having people trespass on your property and you call the police. The police won’t remove them. Then some time later the trespassers are demanding ownership of the ground they are on. It stinks all the way around and the folks know it. I’m sure the politicians want this problem to go away, but many are worried about the folks reaction to whatever they do. The dems, all professing to support amnesty are demanding a pathway. If the dems wanted a pathway they should have passed amnesty while they controlled congress, they didn’t even bring it up. It was good enough to pass Obamacare but not the illegals.

  • Santiago Alemedia

    Dems claim that flooding an already saturated job market with more legal job applicants will somehow be good for America’s long term unemployed. How’s that going to work? They show so much compassion for illegals, but so little for America’s legal residents and citizens. It’s a tough choice, for sure, but one that must be made. Help illegals or your voting constituents. We didn’t send them to Washington to sell us out to cheap labor advocates.

  • Rex

    The only solution is forced deportations otherwise the entire third world will keep coming here. If those stupid White Republicans and White Democrats in the House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate knew what the future holds for White Americans they would be frightened. Whites have become beggars in the Country built by their forefathers. They’ve been thrown out from any City and Town and cannot even complain about it without been called “racists”. The irony is that the Immigration/amnesty Bills in Congress, the one already passed by the traitorous White Democrats in the U.S. Senate and the one passed by the Judiciary Committee of the semi-traitorous White Republicans in the House of Representatives do not even mandate INTEGRATION of these non-White illegals and any other future non-White immigrants (there should be no future non-White Immigrants) into our European-based morals,laws, way of life and overall civilization. Nothing of all this. No wonder the United States has now become like a third world cesspool.
    Why these stupid people in Congress don’t just repeal the disastrous 1965 Immigration Act which for the first time ever allowed non-Whites to legally invade us and destroy us? It’s just common sense !!!

    • adfadfdsfds

      This is anti racist!!! OMGG

    • Layla

      We are under siege and it must stop. 52 MILLION AMERICANS are out of work. We have record numbers on food stamps and you want to add more.

      Why is the US Chamber pushing Boehner so hard on this one? Why do they want him to include a provision granting them a 10 year waiver on providing benefits to these invaders while others receive no such waiver? Whom do you think will get the jobs? HINT: It won’t be any of those 52 MILLION Americans.

      Kevin McCarthy says he does not favor citizenship. Really? You want them to pay taxes, but can’t have citizenship, can’t VOTE? Stop lying, GOP leadership. Those of us old enough to remember the Constitution also know you cannot grant these things WITHOUT CITIZENSHIP AND VOTING RIGHTS.

      Question: Why is the US Chamber also pushing Common Core so hard? Do they support ANYTHING IN THE CONSTITUTION?

      Only the GOP could shoot themselves in the foot so badly in an election year that should have been a slam dunk.

      Guess what the 52 million unemployed Americans are doing? Joining Tea Parties as fast as they can to unseat you, ALL OF YOU.

  • KarmenSense

    Jordan mentions the “high-skilled, high-tech STEM people who get educated by good universities should be able to work here” as being a driver of the Amnesty proposal. Think about that, foreigners getting STEM jobs in America because they’re cheaper than Americans who have stupid enough to get science, technology and engineering degrees, only to end up with hamburger-flipping jobs.

    Naturally the big corporations like IBM and GE that now view themselves as “international” companies and not American companies are willing to “invest” heavily to make that happen.

    So when foreign nationals have all the desirable, well paying jobs, who pays to defend the world, feed the world’s hungry, provide food and shelter to the world’s poor? The hamburger flipping American taxpayer whose future was undermined by his own government, at his expense. The foreign nationals who get the STEM jobs will be trying to get all their relatives shipped in and lined up at the trough. Once they’re on the payroll, they will be constantly on the lookout for other jobs they think can be done by their “countrymen”, cheaper than Americans who are already doing it.

    Go look at any Information Technology department at any big company.

  • SRQTad

    Secure the borders FIRST. Then, deal with reforming what we all know is a broken system. Plug the leak THEN mop up the mess.

    • Layla

      Has this government kept its word on ANYTHING???

  • Layla

    How about upholding the laws we have now? Has anybody noticed that the bulk of new people moving into Texas for jobs are from India? Been to Dallas lately?

    Why shouldn’t Americans have these jobs?

  • Emma Buckhout

    Minor correction Re: “Others argue that the full chamber should consider the four piecemeal bills that have been passed out of the Judiciary Committee.
    ‘Everyone understands we should secure the border, that we should have an E-Verify system that works, that high-skilled, high-tech STEM people who get educated by good universities should be able to work here, and everybody understands you need a guest worker program,’ said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ticking off the list of bills.”

    The border security bill passed out of the House Homeland Security Committee, the other three plus an Ag workers bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee.

    • Layla

      Why is the US Chamber driving the debate on Immigration? Why, with 52 Million Americans out of the workforce?

  • left wing

    pubs have different ideas, whereas the lemmings of the dems just want more votes to buy to stay in power. if the pubs pass an amnesty, they are committing suicide.

  • Layla

    The voters are not of mixed minds. Immigration reform is NOT a priority. Polls show only 3% think it is.

    52 MILLION Americans out of the work force and the GOP feels it must bring up Immigration reform. I don’t know who you people are anymore.

  • Layla

    If this is a revenue situation, then establish a Fair or Flat tax. No legalization necessary. All will be paying their “fair share”.

  • Tank_Commander

    Any idea when they are going to worry about the citizens already here???

  • Bruno’s Beach

    California was wasting $215 million a year on anchor babies – in 1994.

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