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GOP House Negotiator Says Immigration Reform Not Dead, Has ’50/50 Chance’

But key immigration Dem said the House likely will not act this session if legislation isn’t taken up by July 4.

Bill Straub


June 9, 2014 - 12:14 pm

WASHINGTON – Time is growing short for Congress to act on wide-ranging immigration reform this year, but at least one Latino lawmaker remains optimistic that the House will consider legislation before members leave town for the August recess.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) is working with others on a proposal intended to resolve differences over how to proceed on the thorny issue. He maintains a reasonable chance exists to bring a reform measure to the House floor during the 113th Congress.

“Immigration reform is not dead because we are working it,” Diaz-Balart said. “I believe we have a 50/50 percent chance of accomplishing immigration reform. Today I think we are on the cusp. We’re getting the bipartisan support.”

What form any reform supported by Diaz-Balart may take remains unclear. In the past he has advocated for a solution that “strengthens our border, revitalizes the American economy, respects the rule of law and brings families together.”

“We have a historic opportunity to fix an immigration system that everyone recognizes is clearly broken,” he said.

But time is a consideration. The House will be in session for just 28 days in June and July before taking off the entire month of August and the first week of September. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), one of the most fervent supporters for immigration reform in the lower chamber, said the House likely will not act this session if legislation isn’t taken up by July 4.

“There are only 18 legislative days before the July 4th recess – before the campaign season takes over,” he said. “That is not a lot of time.”

Gutierrez urged the Republican leadership to “work together” to bring a reform measure to the floor, asserting it would pass with Democratic support and up to 80 votes on the GOP side.

“Let’s get this done for the American people,” he said.

But there is no indication the Republican majority is ready to move. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, responsible for handling the flow of immigration legislation, told reporters he is unaware of any plans to bring immigration reform to the House floor before the August recess.

Meanwhile, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, of Virginia, facing a Tuesday primary challenge from Tea Party-backed candidate Dave Brat, has been emphasizing throughout the campaign his effort to block comprehensive immigration reform. Cantor’s organization has dispatched mailers to voters highlighting his role in blocking consideration of a Senate-passed immigration reform bill, referring to it as the “Obama-Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty.”

Since Cantor controls the flow of legislation to the floor, his support is vital to the future of any immigration reform bill.

To this point, the House has adopted only immigration legislation during the 113th Congress that reform proponents consider anathema to the cause. Rep. Steven King (R-Iowa), an avowed reform opponent, has succeeded in passing two bills – one passed last month to fund a $5 million investigation into the release of criminals from immigrant detention, and the other, adopted last year, to end Department of Homeland Security policies that allow the agency to delay deportations of young, undocumented immigrants.

Those measures drew criticism from Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who called passage of King’s proposals “inexcusable” and said that they do “nothing to fix our broken immigration system.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is on record saying he wants to address the immigration issue during the current congressional session but he has been unable to generate sufficient support among his fellow Republicans to move ahead. He has thus far agreed to impose the so-called Hastert Rule, an unofficial dictum that leads the leadership to offer only those bills that carry the support of a majority of the majority.

Republican leaders have tried to persuade members to hop on board. Led by Boehner, GOP leaders issued a set of immigration principles last January, for instance, drawing a negative reaction from the caucus and the subject was dropped.

Boehner also has asserted the House won’t get behind any immigration measure unless it trusts President Obama, a firm reform proponent, to enforce the law. Over the past months the White House has used discretion in enforcing immigration policy. In response, Obama has delayed a planned review of deportation policy until the end of the summer – a move that has drawn criticism from supporters and opponents.

Reform supporters are pushing for consideration of House Resolution 15, a bill similar to the bipartisan reform legislation that passed the Senate in 2013. That measure offers illegal immigrants who have resided in the U.S. since Dec. 13, 2011, an opportunity to seek provisional legal status that allows them to work but renders them ineligible for federal benefits. They must pay a penalty, taxes and a processing fee and can only apply for permanent status after 10 years. A new visa program for low-skilled workers would also be developed.

It also hikes border patrol ranks by 20,000 – almost doubling the contingent at a cost of $30 billion — and adds 350 miles of border fencing. It spends $4.5 billion on technical innovations intended to provide security personnel with full situational awareness along the southern border. And it implements an entry-exit visa program to keep tabs on visitors who overextend their stay as well as the so-called e-verify program to make employers aware of a potential worker’s immigration status.

But Boehner and other Republicans who have expressed a willingness to consider the issue are more apt to reject a huge measure like HR 15 in favor of a series of individual bills that address different aspects of the immigration debate. That likely would slow the process further and make it an unlikely topic for the 113th Congress since the bills would have to be introduced, marked up and passed and then sent to the Senate where they are likely to end up in conference.

Obama has indicated he may take executive action if Congress fails to act. The president could move to restrict deportations, expand work permit opportunities and even reduce the prosecutions of those arrested for illegal entry.

Gutierrez asserted that Latino voters are “repelled” by GOP inaction, maintaining that a “loud but small contingent of immigration opponents have backed the Republican Party into a corner they do not have the courage to break out of.”

“Even with a majority of Republican voters supporting immigration reform and a majority of Tea Party voters in support, the positions Republican candidates feel they must take in order to win over their base make them unelectable when they face the American people in the general election,” he said.

Latino voters will view 2014 as “the year it all slipped away,” Gutierrez said, unless the House acts soon.

“With or without immigration reform, Latino voters are a force that is growing faster than Republicans can withstand — and are tilting more towards the Democrats with each day Republicans stand in the way of stopping deportations that are breaking up Latino families,” he said.

Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.

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All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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Your taxes will be assigned to support illegal aliens’ health insurance when Amnesty is the law. If you don’t believe that surprise is buried in Obamacare, see
This is your money being given away. Please get out and VOTE in the Primary elections and in the 2014 November mid-term election.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
C'mon, wise up! "Immigration reform" is simply an anti-black, racist issue. Large employers would rather hire and train Hispanics than have to recruit and train blacks. They don't, at the same time, have to outbid government welfare to attract them to work. Simple as that!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Was that parody?

Or are you really that ignorant and unintelligent?

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is a Republican in Miami-Dade County which used to be Republican until more leftist immigration made it drift towards Socialism and Democrats. In order to stay in politics he is willing to sell out Conservative values, that is if he ever was a Conservative. The same thing can be said for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. They forget that we all know that Latinos of all stripes are not naturally Republicans. At best we can get 25% in National elections, so stop pandering to the Hispanic vote which will never be Republican and follow your conscience. Defend America from the onslaught of the teeming hordes. NO TO IMMIGRATION.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have no doubt that amnesty will be granted to illegal aliens soon. If not now, in the near future. And, this will put the final nail in the coffin of American culture & the America we know. It will be all over, folks. We suffer from astonishing radical democrats & go along to get along cowardly republicans. What a nation we have become!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Headline....GOP commits SUICIDE by passing ANY "immigration reform" bill.
Enforce the darn law already....impeach Obama
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
don't need reform. need enforcement.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
New Threat from GOP ESTABLISHMENT Secret Summer Amnesty

Fearlessly, blatantly and in the overconfident manner possible, this administration spits in our faces of the people. They lie, creating insidious issues and then covers up those very scandals and then protects those who violate the law and targets innocent conservatives and citizens for their values. Our military has been decimated at a time when world pressure is heating up. US sovereignty has been compromised and our civil rights violated. Terrorists have been put in White House positions. Americans are being forced to turn in their guns. Congress won't do anything so we MUST. Obama is the most anti-American president in the history of our country. He hides behind a veil of lies, spewing misinformation and utter contempt for our military. He's allowed terrorists to infiltrate the White House and has funded the murderers and haters of America with our taxpayer dollars in foreign countries. Are you ready to say "NO MORE? We've had enough. Some of these lawmakers may get amass of illegal aliens to vote for them, because that’s what happened with the ACORN organization in Obamas election. The majority of foreign nationals come for this governments handouts, which are no longer restricted and voters are unable to conceive that they PAY FOR IT ALL.

Right now the “Amnesty” Threat Level is at Code Red this week after our Capitol Hill team got word last week that Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.) are polling their fellow House Republicans to measure support for moving an amnesty bill before the August recess. Reportedly, if they can get enough Republicans on board with their plot, House Leadership will do a formal whip count and move an immigration bill to the floor of the House before the August recess.

Owing to the fact that the word of mouth from Obama and the Democratic Congress are yelling from the rooftops that AMNESTY is in the works, unknown numbers of people from foreign countries are hoping to reach our borders. IT IS AN INVASION BY ANY OTHER NAME. THE RECIPIENT, WHO WILL PAY FOR IT ALL, IS THE US TAXPAYER. THOSE WHO BENEFIT ARE CORPORATE INTERESTS, UNIONS & DEMOCRATS AND THE REPUBLICAN ELITE.

President Barack Obama today said the children illegally crossing the Mexican border is an "urgent humanitarian situation," and asked the Senate Appropriations Committee for an extra $1.4 billion to deal with it. Obama issued a presidential memorandum that describes his Administration’s response, which will be led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Obviously we cannot ignore this alarming problem, but we cannot keep allowing people through this administrations open border directive. Parents in other countries are going to use their children as a fulcrum, as a clever ploy to get their un-chaperoned progeny, so they can gain entrance through CHAIN MIGRATION. How can you complain about illegal aliens invading your community if you do not know about it? How can you complain about the President of the United States secretly dumping illegal aliens in your community if he is hiding it and the media does not make this a front page story? Why should the people of Ventura County, California, Arizona or elsewhere suffer criminals put in their midst by a President that is a lawbreaker and a Congress and courts unwilling to stop his criminal actions? How soon will our schools become even more crowded, our health care saturated further declining, and welfare goes up and affordable housing transferred to illegal aliens putting honest citizens on the streets?

Illegal immigration has become a crisis in our sovereign nation and unless you supply your voices to the millions speaking out, our country is in serious trouble. Think twice which political party you vote for, and instead for the most urgent issue and not the politician. Change will only come with the rebellious NATIONAL TEA PARTY. In Congress they will kill illegal immigration and deport; no AMNESTY and no Path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Build the 2500 mile double layer fence; abolish the IRS and implement a fair tax, with no exemptions; Career politicians will be no more; only two terms for everybody; No more stimulus packages to cronies for any in Washington, that has shred our treasuries and much more.

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
So the GOP are blackmailed by the WH to act?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
No. In fact, "No, and that's a stupid idea which shows profound ignorance."

The Establishment Republicans, a.k.a RINOs, Country Club Republicans, Rockefeller Republicans, etc., are pretty much what the Democrats say they are - in it for themselves, sold out to Big Business.

They want cheap labor.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
" In the past he has advocated for a solution that “strengthens our border, revitalizes the American economy, respects the rule of law and brings families together.”"

I can tell you what that looks like:

1. Eliminate the "anchor baby" ruling. (It's not a law, BTW. It's based on one court ruling.) The children of diplomats, tourists, students, contractors, and illegals who are born here do NOT become citizens.

2. Enforce the existing laws.


See how easy that is?

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cantor blocking immigration reform is like an arsonist who starts the fire then puts on his firefighter uniform to put out the flames. What a hero!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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