Mixed signals on immigration reform

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Washington Post reported this morning on a New immigration campaign to target House Republicans:

With a year to go until the midterm elections, immigration reform advocates hoping to jump-start debate on Capitol Hill are planning to target a handful of Republican lawmakers most likely to suffer political consequences next year if Congress fails to act on immigration reform.

A campaign set to be announced Thursday will marry the financial and political power of the AFL-CIO and SEIU labor unions with smaller grass-roots immigrant advocacy groups, including America’s Voice, PICO National Network, Mi Familia Vota and CASA in Action, to target nine House GOP lawmakers who support establishing a way for eligible immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The campaign will target Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), Gary Miller (R-Calif.), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) and Joe Heck (R-Nev.). They represent districts with sizable Latino voting populations where President Obama won or performed well last year. They also have publicly voiced support for revamping the nation’s immigration laws.

Organizers said the goal of the campaign is to pressure the lawmakers to match their public statements by lobbying colleagues and House Republican leaders to permit votes on a series of immigration bills introduced in recent months. If the nine lawmakers fail to convince their colleagues by the end of the year, the groups plan to devote more resources to defeating them in next year's elections and to expand their campaign.

"This is designed to tell Republicans that if you don't take action on reform, there will be people who will take action in districts where Republicans are vulnerable to mobilize Latino and immigrant voters to reward or punish a member of Congress," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a leading national immigration advocacy group.

Sharry said "It just seems [House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)] and company are more worried about members being primaried by tea party challengers than their members in districts with growing Latino populations. This is designed to tell them, ‘Guess what — you’d better worry.’ "

* * *

House lawmakers are on recess this week, but a visit to Capitol Hill last week by hundreds of conservative business and religious leaders helped persuade some GOP lawmakers to take another look at the issue, said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who cosponsored the Senate plan passed this summer.

"There seems to be new life in the House on this," he said Wednesday.

* * *

Flake said there's likely to be bipartisan support for the proposal, "because that’s the only way a deal can be had. I think there’s a good-faith effort underway on both sides of the aisle."

Congressional Democrats also remain hopeful that House Republicans will quickly take up the issue, possibly in December before another round of negotiations over a short-term spending bill in January.

Despite this optimism and a renewed push by business, labor and clergy in the past week to move an immigration bill in the House, Greg Sargent at the Washington Post, an eternal optimist for an immigration bill moving, was decidedly downbeat after speaking to GOP House leaders, declaring Immigration reform is dead for the year, top GOP reformer says:

In what will be seen as another blow to immigration reform’s chances, a top pro-reform Republican in the House concedes House Republicans are not going to act on immigration reform this year, and he worries that the window for getting anything done next year is closing fast.

 

“We have very few days available on the floor in the House, so I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it this year,” GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida told me by phone today.

 

Diaz-Balart has been deeply involved in bipartisan negotiations over immigration for years now, and is thought to be in touch with House GOP leaders on the issue, so folks involved in the immigration debate pay close attention to what he says.

 

Worse, Diaz-Balart said that if something were not done early next year — by February or March, before GOP primaries heat up – reform is dead for the foreseeable future.

 

“I’m hopeful that we can get to it early next year,” he said. “But I am keenly aware that next year, you start running into the election cycle. If we cannot get it done by early next year, then it’s clearly dead. It flatlines.”

Reformers on both sides have been pushing for action this year. Three House Republicans have urged the leadership to allow a vote on something, and House Democrats have introduced their own proposal. GOP leaders have not scheduled a vote on reform this year, but they haven’t ruled one out.

 

Even some Republicans have ripped the GOP leadership’s foot dragging. GOP Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada recently said it would be “disappointing” if leaders were to “punt the issue until 2014 for political reasons.”

Now Diaz-Balart says a vote this year isn’t going to happen . . .  As for the proposal for the 11 million Diaz-Balart is working on, it now looks like it won’t be introduced until early next year. And Diaz-Balart cautioned that it — and/or reform in general — had to be acted on right away to have any chance. “That window is definitely closing,” he said.

There are other ways reform might get done. For instance, GOP leaders could allow piecemeal votes on border security and the Kids Act — which is supported by Eric Cantor and would give citizenship only to the DREAMers. That could conceivably lead to negotiations between the House and Senate, but conservatives will resist that outcome, and it’s a long shot. Nor is there any sign GOP leaders will hold any such votes this year, either.

The House GOP is now at serious risk of killing immigration reform for the foreseeable future.

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