House Majority Whip: No immigration vote this year
It appears to be "wait until next year" for immigration reform advocates. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the third ranking Republican in the House, says that there aren't enough days left on the calendar to take the issue up.
Angelica Salas, the board chairwoman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, described her conversation with McCarthy in a conference call with reporters on Friday and a subsequent interview with The Associated Press.
"What he said was, there's 13 days left, it's very hard to do anything in 13 days," Salas said of McCarthy.
The House returns next week after a weeklong break, but only has a few legislative days remaining.
The Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally and tighten border security, but piecemeal bills in the House have languished since the summer.
Salas and about a dozen women occupied McCarthy's Bakersfield, Calif., office on Thursday to increase the pressure on the Republican to move ahead on immigration legislation. Around 11 p.m. that night, McCarthy and his wife, Judy, met with the group protesting the delay.
"He said, 'Ladies, I hear you want to talk to me. This is just not the way to do it,'" Salas recalled. She said McCarthy and the group spoke for about an hour, and the women explained that while they appreciated his support for immigration reform, it was imperative for the House to act as soon as possible.
"This is about political will to do what is right," Salas said. "This is what we're challenging."
Most House Republicans reject a comprehensive approach as well as the Senate bill, with many questioning the offer of citizenship to people who broke U.S. immigration laws to be in this country. The House Judiciary Committee has moved forward with individual, single-issue immigration bills.
Erica Elliott, a spokeswoman for McCarthy, said Friday that he "supports fixing our broken immigration system. He also believes that it is incumbent upon all participants in the debate to work together to address immigration reform on an issue-by-issue basis rather than demanding that any reform only happen in the context of a massive bill that fails to appropriately address the underlying problems plaguing the current process."
Immigration reform is an issue that the Senate is simply going to have to recognize that the burden of compromise is on them. They passed a lousy bill that doesn't begin to address border security while containing the poison pill of a path to citizenship. Some of that bill might be acceptable to many Republicans, which is why the GOP wants to take up the issue in a piecemeal fashion, addressing concerns about guest workers and visa reform, while coming up with a strong border security regime.
President Obama and the Democratic Senate have erred in stating that they won't pass an immigration bill without a path to citizenship. That is not going to happen - period. There may be an effort to redefine the status of illegal aliens currently in the country, but it won't have anything to do with citizenship and any effort to legalize the illegals will include their payment of back taxes and probably some kind of fine.
Due to the budget battles set for January, immigration reform will be on the back burner when Congress reconvenes after the 1st of the year. But sometime before summer, the House will take up the issue - for better or worse.