Much has been said about Republicans and the immigration reform bill that recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. So the story goes, if Republicans are to survive as a party, they need to start being perceived as immigrant-friendly.
Though the immigration bill is projected to be approved by the Senate, its fate is not so sure in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Despite murmurs among Republicans about needing to soften on immigration, many House Republicans are unconvinced that their passing the immigration bill would endear their party to Latino voters. Tim Huelskamp, a Republican from Kansas, voiced what many are thinking: “There is no evidence to support this idea that Republicans will pick up a lot of votes if we give amnesty to 11 million folks.” Despite his endorsement—an in fact, crafting—of a 2007 immigration bill, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain did not enjoy much of a bump in Hispanic support during this 2008 campaign.
That the path to legalization that the bill would potentially offer immigrants is no fast track to citizenship seems to have little effect on Republican opposition. With the new legislation, it would take undocumented immigrants at least thirteen years to gain citizenship. It is the inevitability of legalization, not its speed, that has Republicans concerned. Tea Party Republicans have influence in the House, and they have voiced their opposition to what, in their minds, amounts to sanctioning and rewarding the breaking of United States immigration law. “I cannot in good conscience ratify illegal conduct with my vote,” says Republican Mo Brooks from Alabama. “Any Republican who advocates ratifying illegal conduct with their vote is subverting the very principles that made the United States a great nation.”
In order for the immigration bill to pass the House, House Republicans would have to believe that there is a need for people who entered the country illegally to be provided a path to citizenship. This is a tall order for most Republican members of the House, for whom such a conviction would signal a dramatic shift in direction. It is possible for Speaker of the House John Boehner to pass the bill in the House with only Democratic support, but Boehner has made statements ruling out that possibility.
If the bill passes through the Senate with significant Republican support, its momentum may push it through the House as well; House Republicans may take broad Republican Senate support as a sign to put the party first by focusing on immigration. It is unlikely that the bill will enjoy broad bipartisan support in the Senate, however, which means that the bill’s future is still very much up in the air.
Source: The Washington Post, “House GOP could still kill immigration reform” Greg Sargent,
May 28, 2013
Source: Reuters, “Will immigration reform get killed in Republican-led House?” Thomas Ferraro,
May 25, 2013