Thursday, August 22, 2013

Immigration Reform: Silver Linning in the House

By Claudio Iván Remeseira | Posted on Thu., Aug. 22, 2013, at 3.55 p.m. ET. Last modified, Friday., Aug. 23, 2013, at 12:05 p.m. ET

"When Congress’s recess began," writes TNR's Molly Redden, "the conventional wisdom was that immigration reform was most likely doomed in the House, and that August, with its throngs of 'anti-amnesty' protesters coming out to harass Republican representatives, would offer the final nail in the coffin." As the last month of the summer comes to a close, however, the grassroots battle has been won by immigration reform advocates, among them Evangelical and Catholic organizations.

In part, the last-ditch thrust against Obamacare has apparently deflated any serious attempt to attack the immigration reform front as well. But other, subtler political forces might be at work. As Washington Post's Greg Sargent notes in his blog The Plume Line,
The House conservative posture on immigration reform has been largely defined by GOP Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Steve King. Goodlatte has given voice to the widespread GOP desire to stall reform by addressing it in pieces. King has amplified the raw nativism below the surface of opposition to reform for some — though by no means most — on the right. Fair or not, King has helped tar the GOP among Latinos with an image the party wants to shake ... So it’s worth taking note when a conservative House Republican makes the case for comprehensive immigration reform on humanitarian grounds..

Case in point is Rep. John Carter of Texas, the chair of the Homeland Security Committee and a member of the House "gang of seven," a bipartisan group that is supposed to unveil a compromise on immigration reform. "The real story," says Sargent, "may be that the House GOP leaders haven't decided how to proceed. They are waiting to hear from members--some of whom are genuinely taking constituents' temperature."
If enough House Republicans privately don’t mind much if reform passes for the good of the party, as long as they don’t have to vote for it, Boehner can break the fictional Hastert Rule. … Only a year ago the position of the entire GOP was that any kind of provisional legalization constituted unacceptable “amnesty.” For some Republicans to be moving off that position is not nothing.
The number of votes needed to pass an immigration bill in the House is 218. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) estimates that 195 of 201 Democrats currently support the bill passed by the Senate, which will leave the GOP must-needed votes in 23. That is precisely the number of  Republican members of the House who, according to the civil rights organization America's Voice, have already declared their support for a bill that would include a path to citizenship:

Read more at the New Republic, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post, 
and NBCLatino

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