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House Republicans fighting over Immigration Reform

November 28, 2013

What are the chances for immigration reform in 2013? PBS News Hour,

House Republicans are not going to take up immigration reform this year, concedes top pro-reform Republicans. And now time is running out.

“Unless someone has some magic potion, I don’t see how there’s time to go through the committee process and through the floor with what could ultimately be six or nine bills,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a leading Republican immigration-reformer in the House, told the Miami Herald on Nov. 7.

Diaz-Balart is hopeful that they can get the bill through early next year. However, it will be dead if they cannot get it done before the GOP primaries for the 2014 elections heat up in February or March, he told Politico on Nov. 7.

Some immigration advocates see Diaz-Balart’s comments as a lot of sweet talking but not much action.

“There is an existing majority in the House that would vote for reform right now. The only thing blocking it is the House GOP leadership,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the America Voice Advocacy Group, according to the Miami Herald on Nov.7.

The chances for getting immigration reform passed on this deadline seem slim. Unlike Senate Republicans, only three Republicans have supported the comprehensive immigration reform introduced by House Democrats on Oct. 2 and Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.) has continuously opposed even putting the Senate bill to a vote on the House floor, opting for introducing it in separate parts (piece-by-pice legislation), an approach which seems to have most support among House Republicans.

Map over how Republican Congressmen voted for Immigration Reform (blue pins=Republicans supporting comprehensive immigration reform; red pins=Republicans supporting leading Republican bills, piece-by-piece approach):

Meanwhile, some Republicans are like Rep. Diaz-Balart frustrated over inaction on immigration reform.

Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) recently said it would be “disappointing” if leaders were to “punt the issue until 2014 for political reasons,” according to the Washington Post on Nov. 7.

Others, who are positive towards aspects of immigration reform, does not see it coming right now.

“The numbers are not here in the House,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Ut.) said to USA Today on Oct. 18. Chaffetz was sponsoring a bill that was passed by the House in 2011 to expand visas for high-tech workers and has been expressing his support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

However, Rep. Steve King (R-Ia.), a staunch opponent of immigration reform, would not be positive towards any kind of vote on comprehensive immigration reform any time soon, according to TalkingPointsMemo on Nov. 7.

See also PolicyMic’s analysis of Oct. 26 on Republicans and Immigration Reform.

As the year is moving towards an end, most House Republicans seem, despite occasional outbursts of frustrations, to be focusing on other aspects of immigration than a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants – an approach which have little chance of getting the cooperation of Democrats either in the House or in the Senate. An exception is the Kids Act presented by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), which would give the DREAMers but that still need to be materialized according to the Washington Post on Nov. 7.

However, Muzaffar Chishti, who runs the New York office of the Migration Policy Institute, believes it is still too early to despair.

“The ’86 bill was dead so many times. I took my vacation after it was clear Congress was not going to pass a bill,” Chishti said to Bloomberg on Nov. 1. And then it passed just afterwards…

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