Monday, August 19, 2013

Immigration Reform: Is the Door Cracking Open in the House GOP?

By Claudio Iván Remeseira | Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 at 8:48 a.m. ET. Last modified, Mon., Aug.19, 2013 at 10:14 a.m. ET.

As the third week of Congress recess begins, more Republican are coming out in support of immigration reform, reports Juan Williams at The Hill. However, it would not likely be the kind of comprehensive reform most immigrant advocacy groups are hoping for.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to promise a vote on separate bills containing different aspects of the immigration bill passed by the Senate in June--the famous "piecemeal approach". And 2012 GOP's VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) recently told a town-hall meeting in his home state of Wisconsin that the House wants to vote on immigration reform in October.
Immigration reform is a third rail for Republicans in Congress--especially for those seeking reelection next year--because of the passionate rejection to any kind of legislation from Tea-Party, grassroots Republicans. But the fact that Cantor, Ryan, and other GOP House leaders are coming out in support of a bill--even one including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants--may be the indication of a breakthrough. 

GOP Reps. who have said they could support a pathway to citizenship include  Joe Heck (Nev.), Jeff Denham (Calif.) and Dave Reichert (Wash.), Peter King (N.Y.), Aaron Shock (Ill.) and Daniel Webster (Fla.) House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) came short of endorsing a path to citizenship but said that he would be OK with allowing undocumented immigrants to become eligible for some legal status.

To pass any immigration bill, the House needs 218 votes. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) estimates that 195 of 201 Democrats currently support the bill that passed the Senate bill. That means about 23 GOP votes are needed--not a cakewalk, but feasible. 

Pro-immigration groups are already putting pressure on some 50 House Republicans who are more vulnerable to a backlash in their own districts in case they vote against a reform bill. Those groups include business, farmers, labor unions and evangelical organizations. One particular target is Rep. McCarthy, whose district is home to a growing Latino population.  

Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, is playing a key role in this campaign. (Watch VIDEO below).

Read more at The Hill

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