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

Immigration Overhaul Shows Signs of Life in GOP

It began with a tiny leak earlier this month — sources telling the Wall Street Journal that Speaker John A. Boehner, behind closed doors, said he’s “hell bent” on tackling immigration this year.

Now, an issue that had been pronounced legislatively dead just weeks ago is one of the hottest topics facing lawmakers in both parties returning to Washington after a two-week recess.

The signs of life for a revitalized push for an immigration overhaul are suddenly popping up everywhere:

  • Sen. Mike Lee, telling Fox News on Monday that “most members” of the Republican Conference in the House are actually “eager to pass some sort of immigration reform.” The Utah Republican, one of the most visible spokesmen of the tea-party-wing of the party, cautioned that immigration legislation “needs to be broken up. It needs to be taken step by step. One step at a time.”
  • In an interview that aired Sunday, Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas, a senior conservative, told the Dallas-area program “Lone Star Politics” that he is close to introducing his own immigration bill that would include a path to citizenship for children, legal status for some adults, beefed up border security and a guest worker program.
  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the fourth-ranked Republican in the House and the highest-ranked woman in the conference, told her local newspaper on April 24 that she thinks an immigration deal can be struck this year. “I believe there is a path that we get a bill on the floor by August,” she told the paper. “We’re going to have to push that this is a legal status, not amnesty.”
  • California Democrat Xavier Becerra, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, jumped on McMorris Rodgers’ comments. “It’s important to recognize the statement of House GOP Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers joining those in support of a vote in the House to fix our broken immigration system,” he said Monday in a statement. “The more time Members of Congress spend with their constituents, the more they come to realize how truly important immigration reform is. … The time to vote is now.”
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a major behind-the-scenes player in ongoing efforts to produce a bill, told CQ Roll Call that he and other lawmakers are “as close as we have ever been” to making a deal. “It is still a big, big, heavy lift,” he said, but he’s optimistic: “I think we’re going to get there.”
  • Two Illinois Republicans, Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Aaron Schock, added their voices to calls for a policy rewrite with video testimonials presented by organizers at a pro-immigration rally in Chicago.
  • The speaker himself doubled down on his off-the-record comments with more controversial remarks delivered last week at a Rotary Club luncheon in Ohio, in which he openly mocked opponents of action on immigration. “Here’s the attitude. ‘Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,'” Boehner told a gathering of Rotarians at Brown’s Run Country Club in Madison Township.
  • Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, told the Christian Post last week that members of the speaker’s staff have assured him there would be an opportunity to take up immigration in June and July. Carey is part of a collection of more than 200 evangelicals from 25 states who plan a pro-immigration reform meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama and other leading Democrats are feeling pressure themselves from activists who are demanding a deal — or executive action. The administration is weighing whether to unilaterally decide to allow undocumented immigrants who don’t have serious criminal records to stay in the U.S. A dozen immigration-rights protesters were arrested Monday outside the White House.

There are still many on the GOP side of the aisle unhappy about talk of a new immigration deal.

“The Obama Administration has its own kind of immigration reform: President Obama is, reportedly, working on more and newer ways to flaunt his disregard for existing immigration law, this time by attempting to stop the deportation of people who have repeatedly broken our laws by entering and re-entering the U.S. illegally,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “House Republicans should focus on demanding that this administration abide by existing laws instead of even considering drafting new immigration laws for Obama to use to his political advantage.”

The conservative Heritage Foundation has also slammed the rumored deal. Heritage Action for America CEO Michael A. Needham called Boehner’s Rotary Club remarks “disappointing.”

“The Republican Party should be large enough for fact-based policy debates,” Needham said. “Unfortunately, John Boehner is more interested in advancing the agenda of high-powered D.C. special interests than inspiring Americans with a policy vision that allows freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society to flourish.”



Boehner Walks Back Immigration Comments

Video Shows Boehner Mocking Colleagues on Immigration

Where Do House Republicans Stand on Immigration Principles? (Updated Whip Count)

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  • vikings55

    In the meantime the Dems laugh their butts off at the predicament the GOP is in. Pass it, permanent regional status. Don’t pass and it is the same result. Say what you want about Bush and Rove, but they saw the coming extinction and tried to do something. Now it is so poisonous that if they don’t pass, Florida is defaulted and they cease to be a competitive alternative to the Dems. Pass it and let in a flood of new Dems.

    • Kara

      So then, there’s no reason to pass amnesty.

      • nashusa

        Amnesty- the immediate death of the working class, and a quick death for the nation

        • Abe


    • Layla

      The GOP? Both sides put us in this untenable position. BOTH sides.

  • nashusa

    This is the most important issue facing us today because amnesty will give the left a permanent majority. And any type of legal status will obviously lead to amnesty .


    We have a duty as Americans to do what we can to save our nation.

    Here are some ideas
    -Contact your congressmen and let them know if they support anything other than enforcement you will vote them out of office.
    Their contact info-

    -Donate to enforcement only candidates in the primaries. The best investment you will ever make.

    Our nation and our future is worth fighting for. We are AMERICAN CITIZENS and Americans are fighters.

    • Abe


  • blfdjlj

    I hope that House leadership will finally do something, instead of perpetually kicking the can down the road.

    • wigglwagon

      E-VERIFY right now. Jail time for employers of illegals. Illegal aliens have to await their day in court in their own country where they are legal residents. Citizenship for new borns is the same as their parents. That is all the reform we need. We certainly do not need a THOUSAND page bill like the Senate passed.

    • Disgruntled2012


      Enforce existing immigration law, enforce existing labor laws, implement e-verify, prevent illegal aliens from working, voting, or receiving welfare benefits. Problem solved!


  • wigglwagon

    The solution to the problem of illegal immigration is very simple and very cheap.

    Congress should institute a bill mandating prison time without parole for the employers of illegal workers. That would virtually end the problem of illegal immigration. That would also put at least 8 million American workers back on jobs and paying taxes instead of needing to collect unemployment and welfare.

    Actually, it would not just be cheap. America would come out hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars ahead. Just think, at least 8 million families off of welfare and back to paying taxes like they used to do when America was enforcing it’s laws.

  • Layla

    To call Mr. Boehner’s remarks disappointing is putting it mildly. Even the legal immigrants in this country are opposed to this sham. Not a single American citizen has any faith that our borders will ever be secured. And none want to reward those who knowingly broke the most sacred laws of all. But we all know that political interests such as the US Chamber always prevail above the interests of constituents. Money talks, most especially to this Congress.

    Let’s take a look at the current plan on the table: Congress will place these illegals into a special “legalized” category, telling the voters they are not receiving amnesty or immediate citizenship. They will still be expected to pay taxes and apply for citizenship. This is how they intend to pacify you. This “legalized” category will allow employers to hire them at lower wages and without having to pay healthcare benefits, since only citizens are eligible to receive these.

    Within months, the pressure of this “unfair” law will enable Congress, or the President, to make them full citizens due to the “outrage” and the fact that this is unconstitutional.

    Now, do you see how this works? Tell me, whom do you think will get the jobs?

    If Americans ever needed to get to the polls to vote these self serving politicians out, it is now. Our country is on the line.

  • TycheSD

    No deal unless it’s more enforcement. Enforce borders, enact mandatory E-verify, establish reliable entry/exit visa tracking system. Then we’ll talk.

    • Disgruntled2012

      Then we won’t NEED to talk!

  • claudia

    This Congress does not legislate anything (I pay them with my taxes), a congress of the Third World does a better job.

  • Socialism is Evil. Organized.

    In 2007, an illegal alien was arrested for murder and child rape in Trenton, New Jersey.

  • Amberteka

    Roll Call is obsessed with pushing amnesty.

  • ShamelessKeepOUt

    S. 744 has a provision where in, new h1b,l1b and b1 in lieu of h1b could be filed or existing ones extended only if the sponsor has more than 50 percetn US citizens. That means almost half a million of those on these visas have to return once their visas expired and the NASSCOM of india can’t bring another half a million in next 2,3 years. almost 2 milions IT jobs (along with them 4 million jobs) would be created in US. Republicans are worried an economic recovery and return of jobs would spell doom for the profits of some super rich men in US and INDia.

    NASSCOM has spend 3 Billion already on PACs like numbersusa and freedomworks to stop s. 744. Wake up america. decide what you want/

    Your right to a successful high paid professional job/
    or want to fight with an undocumented latino for his dog walking job?

    if first one is your choice call your congressman and ask him to vote for s. 744
    if second one is oyur choice fight for a defacto immigration, deportation or shooting of 10 million illegal latinos (which is never going to happen) which helps bring in another 2 million people on h1,l1 and b1 in liue of h1 and also outsrouce 3 million more jobs. Then your only option would be to apply for the same jobs that even illegals wouldn’t do!

  • ShamelessKeepOUt

    NASSCOm funded NUmbersuSA and freedomworks to the tune of 3 billion in 2014 alone.

  • ShamelessKeepOUt

    Google what is NASSCOM and why they are funding NumbersUSA and would be shocked why they are blocking s. 744

  • Oliver Ales

    Around 40% of child molesters arrested in the united states are illegal aliens.

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