Immigration Reform: Coming Soon?09 May 2014
By now, the story is all too depressingly familiar: comprehensive immigration reform has been stuck in legislative limbo for months, and virtually nothing has happened on the House side since the Senate passed its CIR bill at the end of June 2013. It’s like the film Groundhog Day, but without any forward momentum; CIR seems stuck in the same loop, from which there’s no escape.
Or is there? Even House Speaker John Boehner, no particular friend of immigration reform, seems frustrated by the complete lack of progress in this area. As reported at the end of April, Mr. Boehner publically chided his caucus for its continued unwillingness to strike a deal on immigration reform – something widely agreed to be long overdue. Speaking in his home district, Boehner summarized the attitude of his fellow House Republicans toward immigration reform: “Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,” noting that, “We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to. They’ll take the path of least resistance.” [See Boehner Mocks GOP Colleagues on Immigration Reform, by Sheila McLaughlin, Cincinnati Inquirer, 24.Apr.2014.]
It’s too soon to tell whether this presages a renewed commitment by the House Republican leadership to finally confront our immigration issues head-on – or whether it’s merely election-year posturing, an attempt to shield the party from responsibility for the failure of immigration reform. After all, less than a week later, Boehner had fallen back to his earlier position: that the Obama administration is to blame, because they can’t be trusted to enforce the law anyway.
Nonetheless, Mr. Boehner’s remarks still suggest that we may yet see some movement on this issue before the year is out. There is other evidence to support this as well. Last week, a prominent New York Republican, Rep. Peter King, fired off a letter to the Speaker, calling on him “to pass meaningful immigration reform legislation,” because “it would be in the country’s national interest as well as the interest of our party if this could be achieved.” [See Letter from Rep. Peter King to Speaker John Boehner, 23.Apr.2014, available on Politico.com, and Peter King Urges Immigration Reform, by Seung Min Kim, Politico.com, 24.Apr.2014.]
Meanwhile, another leading Congressional Republican, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), announced plans to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill that, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, will include a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for minor children of undocumented immigrants. [See Time for GOP to Offer Immigration Reform Plan: Barton, by Tim Livingston, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, 25.Apr.2014.]
Other indications include a post on the “218” blog of Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call – a paper of record on Capitol Hill – pronouncing immigration reform “decidedly not dead” in 2014, based not only on the Speaker’s jabs at his own caucus, but on public statements from several House GOP members in recent weeks, all pushing for immigration reform this year. Roll Call spoke to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), “a major player in ongoing efforts to produce a bill that could balance Republican demands for border security with Democratic calls for legal status for the undocumented,” who “said a solution is closer than ever.” [See Immigration Overhaul for 2014: Decidedly Not Dead, by David Eldridge, RollCall.com, 25.Apr.2014.]
Could it be that the planets are coming into alignment – that the House of Representatives will finally pass some form of CIR? We won’t have to wait long to find out, because it’s already May, and there’s not much time before the members shift into full-time campaign mode. Stay tuned!
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