Though the chances of a 2013 immigration reform bill passing Congress seem to be going the way of gun control for now, some Republicans in the House are refusing to call it quits just yet, saying a comprehensive bill will come “at some point.”
Those are the words of Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a member of the leadership, who said it’s no surprise to him that the Senate-passed bill, which contains a path to citizenship and a doubling of border patrol agents, will not make it to the House floor. Cole, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” nevertheless commended the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bipartisan lawmakers for producing “decent” legislation.
“Now on our side, we have opted for the individual approach, but there’s also negotiations going on between our own individual Gang of Seven for a larger, more comprehensive bill,” Cole added. “We’ll see that at some point.”
The House “Gang of Seven” has been working on a comprehensive bill for about four years.
The House Republicans emerged from a conference last week opting to continue their piecemeal approach to immigration -- a process that is yet to produce a bill to address the status of 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. This has has disappointed Democrats, who are also concerned about House Speaker John Boehner’s insistence on adhering to his "majority of the majority" rule. That means he will not bring any immigration reform bill for a floor vote, particularly the one passed by the Senate, unless it is supported by a majority of Republicans.
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Many House Republicans firmly oppose creating a special pathway to citizenship, or even legal residency, for the undocumented. However, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, both of Virginia, are working on a bill that would provide some sort of legal status for children who were brought here illegally. No timeframe has been established for that measure’s introduction.
Cole said he supports legalization, but only after other measures like border enforcement are done.
“I think people have very low faith right now in the federal government,” Cole said. “So they’re going to have to see some of these other things first.”
Republicans have been making the argument that the Obama administration picks and chooses what laws it wants to enforce after it decided to delay the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act for one year.
Meanwhile, on “Fox News Sunday,” Rep. Steve Israel of New York, head of the Democrats' House campaign committee, said no excuses should be made to obstruct what a majority of Americans support. He pointed out that under Obama presidency, deportation is at an all-time high while border crossings are at an all-time low.
“If 68 senators agree that this enforceable,” Israel said, “the House Republican majority should not obstruct it.”
With an almost $200 billion in savings over the next decade, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and improvements in border security and high-skilled visa programs, some Democrats say it stands to reason why the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate is backed by some prominent conservatives.
“When you look at it from a conservative standpoint you understand why Karl Rove and Grover Norquist are supporting this bill,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “I think it’s time for the House Republicans to look at this from the position of economic growth.”
At the same time, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said on ABC's “This Week” that the immigration issue is not dead, only “our House members are taking this as a very serious problem.”
“We can work these problems out,” Hatch said. “I think the Senate bill goes a long way in trying to do that. I’m counting on the House getting it even better. I’m counting on the House realizing that we can’t continue with this de facto amnesty.”