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Immigration Bill's Fate Murky on Eve of Lobbying

October 28, 2013
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Since the Senate bill passed in June, opponents and many conservatives have stepped up their pressure against any immigration legislation.

By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press

Prospects for comprehensive immigration legislation this year grew murkier on the eve of an all-out push by a coalition of business, religious and law enforcement to convince the House to overhaul the decades-old system.

Proponents seized on two developments as a Senate-passed measure remains stalled in the House — President Barack Obama's meeting at the White House on Tuesday with a House Republican working on legislation and a California GOP lawmaker's willingness to back a House Democratic plan.

But in a blow to their effort, Sen. Marco Rubio signaled support for the piecemeal approach in the House despite his months of work and vote for the comprehensive Senate bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living here illegally and tighten border security.

The Florida Republican — son of Cuban immigrants and a potential presidential candidate in 2016 — had provided crucial support for the bipartisan Senate bill.

"Sen. Rubio has always preferred solving immigration reform with piecemeal legislation. The Senate opted to pursue a comprehensive bill, and he joined that effort because he wanted to influence the policy that passed the Senate," Rubio's spokesman, Alex Conant, said Monday in explaining Rubio's backing for limited measures.

Since 68 Democrats and Republicans joined together to pass the Senate bill in June, opponents and many conservatives have stepped up their pressure against any immigration legislation, based not only on their principle opposition but their unwillingness to deliver on Obama's top, second-term domestic agenda issue.

The recent budget fight only inflamed conservative GOP feelings toward Obama.

Most House Republicans reject a comprehensive approach and many question offering 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.

Although House Republican leaders say they want to solve the issue, which has become a political drag for the GOP, many rank-and-file House Republicans have shown little inclination to deal with it. With just a few legislative weeks left in the House, it's unclear whether lawmakers will vote on any measure before the year is out.

Among the exceptions are Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Darrell Issa of California, who have been working on possible legislation.

Diaz-Balart has said his bill would help those immigrants here illegally to "get right with the law," purposely avoiding the word legalization that he said is interpreted differently in the fierce debate over immigration. Diaz-Balart is slated to meet with the president on Tuesday.

The congressman mentioned the session in an interview with Florida radio station WGCU and his office confirmed the meeting.

Determined to rally support, outside groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bibles, Badges & Business for Immigration Reform are descending on the Capitol Tuesday to lobby lawmakers to vote this year on immigration legislation.

Randy Johnson, senior vice president of the Chamber, told reporters on a conference call Monday that the effort is "about moving votes on the Hill in the right direction."

Johnson said he was hopeful that the House could pass one or two of the single-issue bills before the end of the year, and left open the possibility of action early next year — an election year.

"I don't think it's the end of world if we can't get it done by early February," Johnson said. He said if it drags on until April or May, the prospects are dim.

Separately, Rep. Jeff Denham of California became the first Republican to back the House Democratic bill. Denham represents a swing district in northern California northeast of San Jose. He won his seat in 2012 with 53 percent of the vote.

The Senate bill, strongly backed by the White House, includes billions for border security, a reworked legal immigration system to allow tens of thousands of high- and low-skilled workers into the country, and a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants already here illegally.

The bill from House Democrats jettisoned the border security provision and replaced it with the House Homeland panel's version. That bill, backed by conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, would require the secretary of Homeland Security to develop a strategy to gain operational control of the border within five years and a plan to implement the strategy. It calls on the Government Accountability Office to oversee the steps being taken.

The bill doesn't call for new spending, in contrast to the Senate bill with $46 billion in new spending on drones, helicopters and other technology, a doubling of agents patrolling the border with Mexico and hundreds of miles of new fencing.

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RELATED TOPICS: Policy, News, Immigration

 
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COMMENTS (4 Comments)

Smallest Dairy Farmer
FG is right on. You don't make citizens of people who flaunt the laws of the country. We do that ........guaranteed we will not be rewarded.
9:57 AM Oct 30th
 
- Cut Bank, MT
If you harbor law breakers, you should also be held accountable. I am very supportive of immigration reform. Reform it to follow existing laws, hold those illegal responsible for their transgressions to the full extent of the law, send them back after fines are paid, and if they return, jail time. Discourage this lawlessness.
9:46 AM Oct 29th
 
FG - cuba, IL
This is not about immigration reform. It is about comprehensive and ever perpetual AMNESTY so that the political and corporate elites can have cheap labor and the DEMS cheap votes.

Naturally the Farm Bureau is willing to sell out its citizenry so that its corporate farms can get cheap labor while the rest of us will pick up the bill in increased welfare costs. They have no shame!

And remember we had an amnesty bill in 1986 that promised border security and employee worker verification.

That was a lie and this is a lie!
6:44 PM Oct 28th
 
FG - cuba, IL
This is not about immigration reform. It is about comprehensive and ever perpetual AMNESTY so that the political and corporate elites can have cheap labor and the DEMS cheap votes.

Naturally the Farm Bureau is willing to sell out its citizenry so that its corporate farms can get cheap labor while the rest of us will pick up the bill in increased welfare costs. They have no shame!

And remember we had an amnesty bill in 1986 that promised border security and employee worker verification.

That was a lie and this is a lie!
6:44 PM Oct 28th
 



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