The "Gang of 7" immigration reform bill in the House, touted as a fix for all our immigration problems, died of disinterest yesterday. It was less than a year old.
In a blow to the hopes of passing immigration reform anytime soon, the bipartisan House "gang of seven" plan is probably dead, and almost certainly won't be introduced this fall as promised, a top Democrat on the "gang" acknowledges.
"It doesn't appear that we're going to move forward with the group of seven," Dem Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a key player on immigration as a member of the gang, said in an interview with me. "The process is stalled. I don't believe we're going to produce a bill anytime soon."
This undermines the already dwindling prospects for reform, because the House "gang of seven" plan - which would provide a path to citizenship but is significantly to the right of the Senate bill - was seen as a comprehensive plan Republicans who genuinely want to solve the immigration problem just might coalesce around. (The gang of seven plan would reportedly provide for a probationary period for the 11 million, in which they'd admit wrongdoing, and onerous conditions for the path to citizenship, which would be 15 years long.)
But Gutierrez tells me that House Republicans on the gang of seven - who have been trying to negotiate comprehensive reform that members of both parties can support for a long time - are just not prepared to embrace a final plan. He says he believes this is because House GOP leaders are not providing Republicans on the gang with support.
"The bipartisan group just wasn't getting support from Republican House leadership," Gutierrez says. "It's just not gonna happen now." Gutierrez continues to believe there is substantial tacit support for immigration reform even among Republicans, but that the GOP leadership refuses to acknowledge this or try to make something happen. "We need the GOP leadership to acknowledge the votes exist for reform," he said.
Immigration reformers had hoped for what they call a "bipartisan moment" on reform in October, after the government shutdown fight is resolved - one that could have involved rolling out the gang of seven plan. But Gutierrez cast doubt on the possibility, noting he doesn't expect anything to happen with the gang's bill "anytime in the near future."
The bill is survived by Democratic lawmakers and 11 million illegal immigrants. Donations in memory of the bill can be sent to me, or to the Republican party - whoever you think deserves it more.