Somebody call the Exorcist, House Republican leaders' heads must be spinning from all their double talk on immigration reform. They say they want to pass bi-partisan reform, yet refuse to bring the only bill with both Republican and Democrat co-sponsors to a vote. Worse GOP leaders are now saying there will be no votes on immigration this year. Despite broad support from the country, the only thing holding back reform this year is the dysfunction of the Republican Caucus in the House.
It doesn't have to be this way, the Republican Party has a proud history of leadership on immigration; House GOP leadership should embrace their political heritage and move the process forward. Republican leadership know reform is an issue whose time has come, all they have to do is schedule a vote to push it across the finish line. Despite the objections of the extreme factions of the Republican party legislation will pass the House soon. Ultimately the coalition for reform is bigger then the dysfunction of the House GOP Caucus because fixing our broken immigration system is supported by a broad spectrum of bi-partisan groups, including House Republican Leadership, the President of the United States and will help our economy.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and ConferenceChairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) have all publicly stated their support for passing reform this year. These sentiments are in keeping with the GOP's clear intentions of turning the page on immigration after it was badly damaged them in the 2012 elections. Yet, despite their public calls for reform House GOP Leadership have not held a SINGLE vote on reform this year.
Which is a real shame as there has never been a more diverse group of bi-partisan leaders in government, business, labor, and the evangelical community who support reform. A recent survey sponsored by The Partnership For A New American Economy, noted that "52 % of those surveyed said they would be more likely to support a candidate who backs immigration reform compared with 18% who said they would be less likely. When Republican Senators, corporate CEOs, agribusiness leaders, economists and religious leaders all call for reform, it is clear that this is not a liberal vs. conservative issue but one that pragmatic leaders across a wide spectrum of groups want action on.
Joining this bi-partisan group is the president who continues to keep immigration in the news and has clearly stated that he supports House Republicans crafting their own legislation. While House GOP leadership refuse to bring any bills to the floor, 187 members of the House Democratic Caucus and 3 House Republicans are co-sponsoring HR 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Immigration Reform like this bill has so much support because it strengthens our borders and levels the playing field by holding employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.
Passage of a commonsense bill similar to HR 215 will reduce the federal budget deficit by nearly $850 billion and increase economic growth by more than $1 trillion over the next 20 years. Citizenship under this type of legislation includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone who is trying to come here the right way. Reform will modernize our legal immigration system, so that we attract highly-skilled entrepreneurs from all over the world to create jobs here in the United States.
The House bill like the Senate bill before it is a compromise. It does not have everything that anyone wants but it does address the core challenges facing our broken immigration system. More importantly it is the beginning of the process in the House of Representatives. This legislation is more a means for Republicans to engage with Democrats on reform then a final product.
With the GOP led Government shutdown behind us and the Tea Party extremists in the House Republican caucus further quieted by last week's election results, one would think that Speaker Boehner would hold a vote on reform. If the Speaker is true to his word, if he truly wants to pass immigration reform, and save the Republican Party from becoming a regional but not national entity he must allow a vote on refrom. It's a simple enough request, and following through would pay dividends not just for Republicans but all Americans.