The Push for Reform – A Bipartisan effort

In the wake of the government shutdown and reboot, President Obama and hundreds of advocates for immigrant reform have taken up the crusade against immigration, bringing this issue to the forefront of the minds of policy makers.

Advocates insist that reform is dead, planting themselves in front of deportation vehicles and the offices of nine representatives with high latino populations, including the following: Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Joe Heck (R-Nev.).  Note: they are all Republican.

The issue is being forced to the forefront because there are less than 20 days left in the legislative calendar – and even though there are more than two months left until the end of the year, Congress will focus solely on the budget crisis – hence, this push.  Once the new year hits, 2014 is midterm election year, which means that the focus will be on reelection. (A/N: This is comforting to know that half of every term of a representative is focused on reelection.  It is no wonder that the American people feel that Congress is inefficient.)

Immigration has a chance though.  Because Boehner brought a vote to the floor of the House that was backed by Democrats and moderate Republicans to end a shutdown, the hope is that he will be swayed to do so again when it comes to immigration.  Senate Bill 744 passed over the summer, and the bill drafted by the Democrats may have a chance to pass in the House.  In fact, Representative Jeff Dunham from California has signed on and partnered with Nancy Pelosi to attempt and draw partisan support for a House bill.  This House bill is similar to the Senate bill.  The key difference is in the amendments.

In the Senate version, a controversial amendment was added that “would add 700 hundred of miles of fencing and 20,000 border control agents along the U.S.-Mexico border. That provision was added to the Senate bill to help win votes from conservative Republicans.”  However, this was incredibly controversial, and members of the House did not want this amendment added.  Instead, a  bill “Democratic lawmakers substituted […] that was passed unanimously by the House Homeland Security Committee last spring [was introduced]. That plan instructs the Department of Homeland Security to write a plan that could ensure the apprehension of 90 percent of illegal border-crossers in high-traffic areas within two years and across the entire southern border within five years.”  This amendment, since it received bipartisan support, would be more able to draw moderate and even more extreme GOP members to push Boehner to bring a vote to the House floor.

The question is, will Boehner do so?  Boehner claims that immigration reform is important and that he is “hopeful” that there will be a vote, but he can make no promises.  This legislation is clearly important enough to vote upon – it may even be advantagous for him to say that he called this vote and got legislation to pass (credit claiming).  President Obama has put the impetus on him and on the House Republicans.  Hopefully Dunham, who crossed the line and responded to the protests at his office, can convince other moderates to cross the aisle, and they can all pressure Boehner into allowing a vote.  Otherwise, Boehner may not be in a good position come mid-term elections.



5 responses to “The Push for Reform – A Bipartisan effort”

  1. Kate says :

    One thing immigration reform has going for it is the Senate bill. Despite that “controversial” amendment (whose stated purpose was to garner enough Republican votes to put some pressure on the House), one strategy put forward by advocates for immigration reform is to let the House pass a relatively conservative bill, then take the House and Senate to conference. The Senate bill would in that case provide a relatively liberal basis for negotiations and hopefully we could end up with a strong immigration bill on the President’s desk by the end of the year. If not, some analysts have suggested the next window for immigration reform would be as far away as 2017.


  2. Chris Gibson says :

    “Because Boehner brought a vote to the floor of the House that was backed by Democrats and moderate Republicans to end a shutdown, the hope is that he will be swayed to do so again when it comes to immigration.”

    Unfortunately I don’t think this will be the case. Boehner only allowed the shutdown/debt ceiling deal to the floor because it was the best option available at the time. He had already proven to the right-wing Republicans that he was willing to fight over the bill (which was likely enough for him to retain the Speakership), but allowing the US to hit the debt ceiling would have been worse than “caving” to the Democrats. There is no fight to be had here, so unless the House passes a conservative bill or there is a dramatic change in the dynamics of partisanship, there is no incentive for Boehner to pass a moderate Republican-Democrat-coalition bill as it would result in a high chance of Boehner losing the Speakership.

  3. Will R says :

    It’s perfectly understandable that the latino population is frustrated by the lack of progress on immigration reform, but it is not the only reform that has been slowed down by our legislature’s increasingly common manufactured crises and focus on political grandstanding over action. I think that it does face a lot of the same isdues that the shutdown did, with many congresspeople’s safest move being inaction. Unfortunately, I’m less optimistic than you about its chances of being resolved in the same way as the shutdown. There is no overt looming immigration to spur legislators to action, and those being pressured by their voters on this particular issue seem to be in the minority. I hope some sort of reform makes it through quickly, but I wouldn’t say I’m as optimistic as you are.

    – Will R

  4. legiprocess says :

    I wonder if the new amendment is an attempt by conservative Republicans to kill the bill. By adding on such a hard to meet goal of “apprehension of 90 percent of illegal border-crossers in high-traffic areas within two years and across the entire southern border within five years,” Republicans may be pushing through this amendment in the hopes that Democrats in the House and Senate would vote against this bill. To me, the goal of 90% within five years seems unreasonably high. Also, this strategy is more plausible because the Senate Democrats did not support this amendment in the first place.

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