I use the term “reform” very loosely here because the full details of this legislation have yet to be revealed. We don’t know exactly what it will entail but the GOP has given hints by providing their “standards” memo to guide this process.
Report from Politico:
The House Republican leadership is trying to sell their colleagues on a series of broad immigration principles, including a path to legal status for those here illegally.
Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team introduced the principles at their annual policy retreat here. Top Republicans circulated a tightly held one-page memo titled “standards for immigration reform” toward the tail-end of a day that include strategy conversations about Obamacare, the economy and the national debt.
In the private meeting where the language was introduced, Boehner (R-Ohio) told Republicans that the standards are “as far as we are willing to go.”
“Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that for her caucus, it is a special path to citizenship or nothing,” Boehner said, according to a source in the room. “If Democrats insist on that, then we are not going to get anywhere this year.”
Boehner said the standards represent “a fair, principled way for us to solve this issue.”
The strategy marks a shift for House Republicans. In 2013, Boehner’s chamber ignored the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate. But toward the end of last year and early this year, Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) began hashing out this approach to rally Republicans toward reform.
“It’s important to act on immigration reform because we’re focused on jobs and economic growth, and this is about jobs and growth,” Boehner said in his pitch in the closed meeting. “Reform is also about our national security. The safety and security of our nation depends on our ability to secure our border, enforce our laws, improve channels for legal entry to the country, and identify who is here illegally.”
Is this the right course of action the GOP should be taking? Does the country need new laws or, as some argue, simply to enforce existing laws? Does this hurt the Republican chances of taking the Senate if conservatives in the party stay home due to this immigration push?
I think the answers will hinge on how far this package pushes citizenship versus a “legal status.” However, I’d assume that anything can be incrementally turned into citizenship by a future Democrat-controlled Congress or White House so what benefit do Republicans see in passing anything to do with immigration? Remember, Democrats held both chambers the first two years of President Obama’s first term, why didn’t Democrats pass an immigration package then?
Finally, let’s put this in the perspective from recent polling which indicates a mere 3% of Americans say immigration is a top problem facing the country. This is far behind issues such as the economy (18%), unemployment (16%), health care (16%) and even growing federal deficits (8%).
So, why the sudden push from the House?