Immigration reform vote in House looks inevitable
Speaker John Boehner has told donors and industry groups that the Republican House is going to take up immigration reform before the November election.
Many lawmakers and activists have assumed the issue was off the table in an election year. But Mr. Boehner said at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month he was "hellbent on getting this done this year," according to two people in the room.
A spokesman for Mr. Boehner didn't dispute the account but said no action is possible until President Barack Obama proves himself a trustworthy partner to Republicans.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), chairman of the HouseJudiciary Committee, delivered an upbeat message about legislative prospects during a recent trip to Silicon Valley, said Carl Guardino, chief executive of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, who hosted his visit.
He said Mr. Goodlatte told him action in 2014 was "entirely possible," likely in the form of votes this summer on five to seven immigration bills. A spokeswoman for Mr. Goodlatte declined to comment on the exchange.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.) also is drafting legislation that would give qualifying undocumented immigrants legal status and the chance to apply for citizenship through existing channels. The bill includes border-security measures and an effort to clear the backlog of applications for permanent legal status, known as green cards.
House leaders have told Mr. Diaz-Balart to have the legislation ready to go for possible debate in June or July, an aide said.
One issue that could impact the timetable in Congress is a review of deportation policy now under way by the Department of Homeland Security, at Mr. Obama's direction.
A senior administration official said some modest fixes are expected within the coming weeks. But in a meeting with lawmakers, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said other changes could come later in the year if the House continues to stall on legislation, congressional aides said.
That could serve to energize frustrated Hispanic voters ahead of the midterm elections, but Republicans say it would kill the chances for congressional action.
In public, tensions remain high between Mr. Obama and congressional Republicans. On Wednesday, Mr. Obama called Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) to discuss immigration. The president said it was a "very pleasant" conversation, but earlier in the day, Mr. Obama had issued a statement admonishing the House GOP for not acting on immigration. Mr. Cantor seized on that in his own statement which accused Mr. Obama of not knowing how to work with Congress.
This is truly inexplicable. I have seen no poll that shows the American people eager for immigration reform. It consistently ranks near the bottom of issues the people would like to see Congress act on.
Neither are there any polls I've seen that show Hispanics so grateful to the GOP for passing immigration reform that the Republican share of their vote increases.
What I have seen and heard is that the base would be livid with any effort at immigration reform and that should concern Boehner a lot more than what the Washington Post says about him. Boehner doesn't necessarily see immigration reform as improving procedures or border security. Boehner sees it as a tolerance issue. Republicans must prove they don't hate Hispanics, so goes the thinking.
What an awful reason to pass such sweeping legislation. Immigration does, indeed, need reforming. But it shouldn't be done in the heat of a campaign, nor should it be accomplished in an effort to pander to the sensibilities of one ethnic group.
Boehner risks Republican prospects in the mid terms if immigration reform comes to the floor.