Republican Lawmakers Miffed

Republican lawmakers continue to be miffed about losing the debt crisis power struggle, and to take out their frustration on the immigration reform issue. “The president’s actions and attitude over the past couple of weeks have certainly poisoned the well and made it harder to work together on any issue,” said a GOP aide recently.

Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy for the Center for American Progress, acknowledged that Republicans may just need some time. “There will definitely have to be a cooling off period,” he said. Republicans hold “a sense of, ‘Yes, we lost, but we won’t back down.’ It certainly feels like the fever has not broken.”

Republican senator Marco Rubio blames Republican reticence on President Obama’s recent actions during the debt crisis. “Immigration reform is going to be a lot harder to accomplish than it was three weeks ago,” he told Fox News on Sunday. At issue, say Republicans, is that President Obama cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith. He may make concessions during negotiations that he later reneges on, like he has done in the past, they say. Furthermore, during the debt crisis, the president announced that he would not negotiate on a government funding bill or debt limit increase, leaving Republicans with only two choices: concede, or stand their ground and allow the country to default. Most Republican lawmakers do not feel eager to jump back into the ring with a president whom they perceive to habitually break the rules of combat.

But not all Republicans are refusing to try for common ground again, post-government shutdown. GOP representative Mario Diaz-Balart from Florida—Rubio’s home state—has stated that there remain several House Republicans involved in bipartisan negotiations on immigration. “There are a number of us who are working on a proposal to deal with the folks who are here in a way that allows those who have not committed crimes to get right with the law,” he said, adding that they must decide “what to do with the millions of undocumented who are here in a way that completely conforms with the rule of law.”

Non-negotiable for House Republicans, says Diaz-Balart, is to have “border and interior security as part of anything [they] do.” In other words, Republicans will not pass a bill that lacks an enforceable way to ensure that illegal immigrants won’t continue to pour across the border. “We have to get the majority of Republicans in support, but on something this difficult and controversial, we’re going to need Democratic votes as well,” he said.

Diaz-Balart’s position may be just the middle ground Republicans need to get immigration up and running again. “The question is,” he said, “do we want to move forward on legislation to fix the borders? We’re going to have to take some political arrows but that’s what we’re here to do. I’m hearing a lot that you’ve got a president you can’t trust or negotiate with. That’s pretty much a consensus among Republicans. Here is what is also consensus: We have porous borders and 11 million here unlawfully. The broken system is not something Republicans should accept. If we don’t solve this issue, it will be back year after year. The number of undocumented will continue to grow.”

Source: Fox News, “2013 Immigration Reform Bill: ‘I’m Going To Push To Call A Vote,’ Says Obama,” FoxNews,
October 20, 2013

Source: NBC News, “Did shutdown ‘poison the well’ for immigration reform?,” Carrie Dann,
October 8, 2013

Source: The Washington Post, “Immigration reform: Still not quite dead,” Greg Sargent,
October 22, 2013

A House Divided

Since the end of the government shutdown two days ago, many Republicans have expressed the opinion that the president “won” the issue, and it has not left House Republicans keen to give ground in other places—particularly, not in the area of immigration reform, which the president has named as his main focus now that the shutdown has ended. Obama pushed for immigration reform legislation in his comments Thursday morning: “There’s already a broad coalition across America that’s behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform—from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement. Economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 percent larger two decades from now. That’s $1.4 trillion in new economic growth.”

Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois—chairperson of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus—was on the same page as the president, in terms of hoping for a renewed focus on immigration reform, now that the country’s budget woes have been pushed to 2014. Gutierrez was less diplomatic, however, in his expression of the cause of the shutdown and delays in addressing immigration. “When we emerge from this crazy partisan eruption from the Republicans, there will be a huge incentive for sensible Republicans who want to repair some of the damage they have done to themselves. Immigration reform remains the one issue popular with both Democratic and Republican voters on which the two parties can work together to deliver real, substantive solutions in the Congress this year.”

Growing Republican anger toward the executive branch and the Democratic Party does not bode well for immigration reform. Immigration reform may, some worry, become a casualty of the debt crisis, as House Speaker John Boehner swung even further to the right over the past few weeks in opposition to President Obama. Raul Labrador, a Republican Representative, remarked following the end of the government shutdown that “It’s not going to happen this year….After the way the president acted over the last two or three weeks where he would refuse to talk to the Speaker of the House…they’re not going to get immigration reform. That’s done.”

The president seems more optimistic, however. On Thursday, Obama urged Congress to refocus on immigration reform. “The majority of Americans thinks this is the right thing to do,” Obama said. “And it’s sitting there waiting for the House to pass it. Now if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear ’em. Let’s start the negotiations…This can and should get done by the end of this year.”

Source: Slate, “Republicans Ready to Block Immigration Reform Because Obama Can’t Be Trusted,” David Weigel,
October 17, 2013

Source: International Business Times, “2013 Immigration Reform Bill: ‘I’m Going To Push To Call A Vote,’ Says Obama,” Laura Matthews,
October 16, 2013

Source: Tech Crunch, “Why The Outlook For High-Skilled Immigration Reform In 2013 Remains Troubled,” Alex Wilhelm,
October 18, 2013

Source: International Business Times, “Immigration Reform 2013: ‘Finish The Job,’ Obama Tells Congress,” Laura Matthews,
October 17, 2013

Debt Crisis and Immigration

President Obama said Tuesday that the day after Congress comes to a consensus on the debt ceiling and the government shutdown, he would pursue immigration reform once again. “Once that’s done, you know, the day after, I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform,” he said to Univision. Jay Carney, White House secretary, said Wednesday, “The president believes that one of the consequences of these manufactured crises is that time is taken away from the pursuit of other goals we have as a nation.”

When asked to speculate on the odds of the president being able to push legislation through Congress after Congress addressed the budget crisis, Mr. Carney declined. “I don’t think I place quantitative odds on any of this,” Carney said. “Congress is a difficult institution to make predictions about.”

President Obama’s immigration overhaul plans have continually been relegated to the back burner this fall, as Congress argues over the debt limit and healthcare funding. By all accounts, he is no less eager now than he was six months ago to pass immigration reform legislation, and it seems that one man is taking the brunt of the blame for the delay: Speaker of the House John Boehner. The president again laid blame at the feet of John Boehner on Tuesday: “We had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate. The only thing right now that’s holding it back is, again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives.”

Immigration reform advocates hope the issue will not continue to be overshadowed by budget woes for long. Darryl Morin, Midwest vice president for the League of United Latin American Citizens, called immigration reform “the biggest issue on the calendar.” “It’s important for everyone to keep up the pressure on Congress and for everyone to remain engaged, but we’re running out of time,” he said. “We’re not giving up, but if it doesn’t happen in the fall, it could happen in the spring.”

Ed Fallone, a Marquette University law professor who teaches immigration law, does not retain high hopes about the fate of immigration reform, he says. “These legislative overhauls, especially big bills, need a sense of momentum behind them. And any bill that will require bipartisanship has to happen at the right time on the calendar, so that it’s not too close to the next election cycle. I do think we’re starting to get close to the end of that window.”

While most Americans may just be hoping at this point for an end to the debt crisis, immigration reform advocates are worried about that very fact—that the debt crisis is so bad that it poses a distraction from the less pressing issue of immigration reform. But if Fallone is right about the timing issue, immigration reform may not, in the end, be less pressing an issue for the present Congress than the debt crisis.

Source:, “Immigration reform gets overshadowed by world, national events,” Georgia Pabst,
October 14, 2013

Source: The Hill, “Obama to push immigration reform ‘day after’ budget deal,” Justin Sink,
October 15, 2013

Source: Reuters, “Obama plans immigration push after fiscal crisis ends,” Mark Felsenthal,
October 16, 2013

Immigration Reform Takes a Backseat

The government shutdown is causing problems in many different arenas, and immigration reform is seeming more like one of them each day. And not only is the government in a partial shutdown; in less than a week, if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, the United States government would begin to default on its debts, which could send the country into an economic crisis that dwarfs the 2008 financial crisis. In the face of such extensive and imminent problems, immigration reform has decidedly taken a backseat for most members of Congress.

Immigration activists have taken note and refused to let the issue die. Over 200 people were arrested on Capitol Hill on Tuesday while protesting Congress’ refusal (or inability) to pass immigration reform legislation. Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, said in a statement that their activism can go only so far: “Lending support at rallies and delivering speeches are important measures of support, but only if followed and complemented by taking real action and expending real political capital.”

Among those arrested at Tuesday’s rally were eight lawmakers, all Democrats, and all House Representatives. The group was comprised of John Lewis of Georgia, Charlie Rangel of New York, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Joe Crowley of New York, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and Al Green of Texas. Roy Beck, president of the conservative group Numbers USA, dismisses the significance of the rally. Said Beck, “Five years after politicians’ mismanagement of the economy created a jobs depression, 20 million striving Americans still can’t find a full-time job. But neither party’s leaders have allowed the concerns of these struggling Americans to be considered when forming immigration policy.”

The rally, which was dubbed “Camino Americano” (“American Road”), was meant to capture the attention of House Republicans, most of whom oppose comprehensive immigration reform. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart was one of the few Republican lawmakers at the rally, and he made his support known. “Let’s be clear: this is not the first rally we’ve been to over the years. We’ve heard a lot of lip service and a lot of promises, both political parties have had the chance to solve it, neither have, it’s about time we get it done this year.”

Nancy Pelosi spoke at the rally, leading the crowd in a chant of “si se puede!” (“yes we can!”). Bob Dane, spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said of the rally, “It’s bad enough watching these marches when we watch illegal aliens breaking our laws. Now they’re being given free range on these public parks while we’ve seen the greatest generation military vets being turned away from their sacred memorials. It’s offensive and it shows where their loyalties lie.” The turning away to which Dane referred happened last week, when World War II veterans fought (because of the government shutdown) to access memorial sites at the same location as this week’s rally.

Despite the attention the rally attracted—both positive and negative—it may not be enough to pull immigration reform legislation from the shadows of a government shutdown and looming default on the debts of a country.

Source: IB Times, “This Week in Immigration: Comprehensive Reform Bill Hits the House,” Laura Matthews,
October 10, 2013

Source: MPR news, “House Democrats introduce separate immigration bill,” Brett Neely,
October 9, 2013

The Comprehensive House Bill

Last Wednesday, Democrats in the House presented a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill, a pet project of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s, is a mishmash of the bipartisan Senate bill and bills from the House that emphasize increased border security. It seems that few are optimistic about the bill’s prospects. Widely regarded as both too liberal and too big to pass through the House (which has preferred, to this point, to deal with small bills covering individual issues), the bill may be more of the appearance of an attempt than a real attempt at fashioning legislation that could become law.

Pelosi’s bill includes the House Homeland Security Committee’s approved border security bill, a clear departure from the Senate’s “border surge.” The border control plan in the House bill would ensure the capture of 90 percent of people who cross the U.S./Mexico border illegally within five years, without the 700-mile fence and 20,000 additional border control agents outlined in the Senate bill.

The Democrats brought the bill to national attention in a news conference last week on a day when most news networks were covering the government shutdown. Jeff Hauser, spokesperson for the AFL-CIO, said about the timing, “The deportation crisis doesn’t take a break just because we now have a budget crisis. Each day, more than 1,000 aspiring Americans are being deported. That crisis must end. It’s constructive that pro-immigration forces in the House are taking action because it reflects the fact that the issue remains at the forefront of the conversation among communities across the country.”

Pelosi appears optimistic about the bill’s attributes, if not its viability. “This is 100 percent bipartisan. Best of the Senate bill, subtract Corker, and adding the House Homeland Security Committee,” said Pelosi. “This is not a challenge to the Speaker. One of the criterion we had was that it had to be bipartisan. The Speaker said that he would like to bring something to the floor. We would like to see characteristics like these in the bill.”

The House bill is more goal-oriented than the Senate bill, laying out a detailed border security plan but no specific implementation policies. Both bills would enable 7.7 of the nation’s 11.5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country legally, and both bills would enable another 5 million immigrants to legally gain entrance to the United States over the next five years.

Few onlookers expect the House to take the bill seriously, but many hope that it has enough viability to pressure House Republicans to work on immigration reform themselves.

Source: Brookings, “This Week in Immigration: Comprehensive Reform Bill Hits the House,” Nicole Prchal Svajlenka,
October 7, 2013

Source: The Washington Post, “House Democrats introduce separate immigration bill,” David Nakamura,
October 2, 2013

Source: Think Progress, “House Democrats Introduce Their Own Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill,” Esther Yu-Hsi Lee,
September 2, 2013

Obama and Boehner

This weekend, immigration reform will once again take center stage after the nation’s focus shifted this week to the government shutdown. Immigration activists will gather in more than 150 cities around the United States, hoping to attract the attention both of lawmakers and the public.

The issue was never out of sight for some lawmakers, but healthcare has taken center stage of late, to be sure. Much has been said this week about the relationship between President Obama and John Boehner, Speaker of the House; the two men have been butting heads over healthcare negotiations—or lack thereof—for some time now, and they seem by all accounts to be at a low place in terms of respect for each other. It remains to be seen whether their frosty relationship with regards to healthcare will spill over into immigration reform, but observers agree that the negativity doesn’t bode well for a bill that will ultimately succeed only through bipartisan efforts.

Last month, Obama’s comments about Boehner made news when the president blamed Boehner for Congress’s lack of progress on immigration reform. The president said on Telemundo, “[T]he only thing that’s holding [the bill] back right now is John Boehner calling it to the floor because we’ve got a majority of members of Congress, Democrats and some Republicans, in the House of Representatives, who would vote for it right now if it hits. So this is really a question that should be directed to Mr. John Boehner. What’s stopping him from going ahead and calling that bill?”

Boehner responded to the president’s comments through a spokesperson, jabbing back at Obama. According to Boehner, “it is essential that [Congress has] the confidence of the American people that it’s done the right way. That means a deliberate, step-by-step approach, not another massive ObamaCare-style bill that people don’t understand.”

Despite the president’s popularity among immigration reform advocates, he has deported more immigrants during his presidency than any president before him. In a few weeks, Obama will have deported 2 million immigrants since he took office. And people are taking notice. One immigration reform activist told the New York Daily News to “expect some pretty dramatic civil disobedience to mark that 2 millionth deportation.”

Boehner made fun of the president from the floor of the House this week, mimicking his speech and saying the president told him, “’I’m not going to negotiate. I’m not going to negotiate. I’m not going to do this.'” For his part, on the same day, Obama called Boehner and other top Republicans “unsuccessful leaders” and remarked that they “have been unwilling to say no to the most extreme parts of their caucus.” Whether Boehner and Obama can pull out of the nosedive the find themselves in is anyone’s guess, but more may be riding on the answer than merely a friendship.

Source: ABC News, “Immigration Reform in Spotlight Again Across US,” Laura Wides-Munoz,
October 4, 2013

Source: NPR, “For Obama And Boehner, No Sign Of Thaw In Frosty Relationship,” Ari Shapiro,
October 4, 2013

Source: The Hill, “Obama blames Boehner for delay on Immigration Reform,” Justin Sink,
September 17, 2013

Government Shutdown

Today is day two of the government shutdown, the result of the House and Senate failing to reach an agreement on a bill that would fund government spending. The fiscal year ended Monday for the federal government, and without a law in place to establish spending for the coming year, governmental agencies of all stripes closed (or in some cases, remained open only with essential personnel, who will be paid retroactively when the shutdown ends).
At issue is the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare; the Republican-dominated House wants to defund the program, while the Democrat-dominated Senate wishes to keep it around. And because Congress cannot reach an agreement, an estimated 800,000 to 1 million federal employees went home at 1:00 pm yesterday.

The government shutdown has pushed immigration reform discussions into the background, but immigrants can still be deported and arrested during the shutdown. The Department of Homeland Security will still operate—albeit with only essential employees—and part of its operation during the shutdown will include ongoing immigration and customs enforcement.
Functionally, this means that during the shutdown, the border will remain open, green cards will continue to be processed, and immigrants will continue to be deported. However, only certain (“life or death”) visa applications will be processed, and the much lauded E-Verify system will not be in operation.

While immigration courts will remain open—at least, most of them will—the processing of immigration cases is expected to slow to a near crawl, as non-essential staff is being furloughed, forcing attorneys and judges to operate without assistants. Legal workers told the Washington Post that asylum petitions and deportation cases could be “delayed for months if the shutdown lasts more than a few days.”

Immigration attorneys have expressed concern over the effects the shutdown could have on immigration cases. Greg Chen, director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, remarked about the shutdown, “Situations change. Memories fade. Evidence gets lost. If you have a court date now, and it is kicked off the calendar, it could be a matter of life and death.” The Executive Office for Immigration Review normally employs 1,339 people. Since the shutdown, however, only 402 have avoided being temporarily laid off.

House Republicans claim that immigration reform efforts are moving forward despite the budget crisis. Tamar Jacoby, who heads up ImmigrationWorks USA, confirms rumors that some lawmakers remain focused on immigration, despite the major budget woes. “Despite the appearance that would suggest everyone in Washington is focused on one thing, work is going on on other issues beneath the radar,” she said. Luis Gutierrez, a Democratic representative from Illinois and a staunch advocate of immigration reform in the House, holds out hope that legislation is still possible. “Comprehensive immigration reform is within our reach,” he said recently at a news conference. “We have the ugly, bitter, partisan fight, and in the middle we must continue to see the light to get this done.”

Source: Immigration Impact, “How a Government Shutdown Likely Affects Immigration Agencies,” Amy Grenier,
September 30, 2013

Source: Think Progress, “Immigrants Can Still Be Deported, Arrested During Government Shutdown,” Esther Yu-Hsi Lee,
September 30, 2013

Source: The Washington Post, “Immigration courts remain partly open but political asylum cases delayed,” Pam Constable,
October 1, 2013

Source: BREITBART, “House GOP Press Forward on Immigration Amid Budget Fight,” Tony Lee,
October 1, 2013

Immigration Reform Remains Afloat

Though formal immigration reform efforts have all but come to a halt in the House, Pelosi’s plan is not the only potential way forward on immigration. Bob Goodlatte, (Republican) House Judiciary Chairperson, has indicated that House Republicans are looking for a way to enable the 11 million undocumented workers who would be most affected by immigration reform to remain in the country legally. Even more encouraging than Goodlatte’s goodwill toward immigration reform is his enthusiasm about it.

“We have to find the appropriate legal status for people who are not lawfully here,” he told reporters last week. Democrat Luis Gutierrez remarked about Goodlatte last week, “I’m happy that he says that he’s moving forward, that he’s looking for a bill that can go to conference. That is a step in the right direction.”

Goodlatte says his proposal neither closes the door on a potential pathway to citizenship nor provides one. Undocumented immigrants would be legally permitted to remain (and work) in the United States, and would become eligible to apply for citizenship through existing channels. Many ardent supporters of immigration reform on the left have committed not to vote for any bill that excludes an explicit pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, but the vagueness of Goodlatte’s proposed framework may just be the kind of compromise both Republicans and Democrats can embrace.

Even the Senate proposal, which goes further than Goodlatte’s in terms of ascribing rights to immigrants, would bar over 3 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants from becoming legal residents. But Goodlatte’s bill, which will almost certainly leave out even more people, would still provide the majority of undocumented immigrants with a way to remain in the country legally. And if that is the closest immigration reform efforts will come this year to justice for the undocumented, some reform activists realize that they would be foolish to reject it.

“If this is the way Republicans need it, [Democrats] should take it because it may be years before we get back to that point,” said Becky Talent, Bipartisan Policy center director of immigration policy. “How many [immigrants] will be facing deportation by then?” Even if Goodlatte’s plan diminishes the number of immigrants who will gain citizenship, it will certainly protect more immigrants from deportation than current immigration policy does, and this is undeniably a step forward.

The House Judiciary Committee has passed four immigration reform bills, each of which leans strongly to the right. Four more bills are in the process of being shaped, according to Goodlatte, who is also working with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to shape a DREAM Act that would provide benefits to immigrants who entered the country illegally as children. Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell Law School expert in immigration said of immigration reforms’ political prospects, “I think it’s the conventional wisdom that immigration reform is dead in the House. But I think there could still be a surprise.”

Source: MSNBC, “Immigration reform framework takes shape,” Benjy Sarlin,
September 26, 2013

Source: USA Today, “House could determine fate of immigration overhaul,” Erin Kelly,
September 27, 2013

Source: Newsmax, “Bob Goodlatte Backs ‘Earned’ Citizenship for Young Illegals,” Sandy Fitzgerald,
September 20, 2013

Pelosi’s Plan

Nancy Pelosi has decided to take matters into her own hands with regards to immigration reform. Pelosi, the (Democratic ) House Minority Leader, is putting forward a plan to ensure that the House addresses immigration reform this fall.

Pelosi’s plan, which she hatched at a meeting last week with various House Democrats and immigration reform advocates, is to release the bill on October 5th, the National Day of Action. The hope is that activists will be particularly motivated to pressure political leaders on that day. The bill is said to be a variation on the bipartisan bill passed by the House in June, sources say.

Some supporters of reform had been hoping Pelosi would introduce a discharge petition in the House, a move that would force a vote if it could garner the support of 218 members, but Pelosi opted for a different gamble. The House version of the Senate bill would add a measure the Senate Judiciary Committee did not include: a measure that would clearly establish standards for border security.

Pundits speculate that Pelosi’s plan may actually have appeal among Republicans. The Senate bill had tremendous bipartisan support, and combining it with added border security may establish it as bipartisan enough for House Republicans to support it. “This should be a very easy thing for Republicans, as well,” said one senior aide.

But if the plan does not garner much personal support among many House Republicans, the timing of Pelosi’s plan is aimed at pressuring them to support the plan politically, though the date of release is not set in stone. One insider commented that “Dems agree that they need to lean into the issue more,” which may include releasing a bill “sooner rather than later.”

In addition to adding border security provisions, the new bill would strip the Senate bill of its previous border security provisions—provisions that have proved very unpopular among House Republicans. Pelosi’s activism comes a week after Democrat Representative Luis Gutierrez told members of the press that the immigration reform effort “stalled” and that he did “not believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”

Pelosi’s gamble is dependent at this point upon the good graces (or political expediency) of House Speaker John Boehner, who would need to call the bill to the floor for a vote in order for it to be addressed at all. Boehner has previously stated that he would not bring a piece of legislation that did not have the support of most House Republicans to the floor for a vote.

Source: FOX News Latino, “Rep. Nancy Pelosi May Introduce Immigration Bill To Pressure Reluctant Republicans,” Fox News Latino,
September 24, 2013

Source: Politico, “Nancy Pelosi may introduce immigration reform bill,” Seung Min Kim and Jonathan Allen,
September 23, 2013

Source: The Washington Post, “Nancy Pelosi moves to pressure Republicans on immigration,” Greg Sargent,
September 23, 2013

Gang of Seven Bill

The House’s bipartisan “Gang of Seven” has likely failed in its bid to create a bill that has a chance of passing through the House. Democrat Representative and Gang of Seven member Luis Gutierrez said about the process, “It doesn’t appear that we’re going to move forward with the group of seven. The process is stalled. I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”

Republicans John Carter and Sam Johnson—two of the Gang of Seven’s three remaining Republicans—declared today that they were leaving the group. The news did not surprise immigration reform supporters, who have watched the House struggle to come up with an approach to immigration reform that even most House Republicans would sign onto. Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said this about the defections: “No surprises. The fact that two more Republicans have decided for whatever reason to leave the dialogue table tells us politics is getting in the way of reasonable solutions.”

The Gang had been crafting a plan that would result in a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, though the pathway was much harsher than that proffered by the Senate’s Gang of Eight. The Seven’s plan would force wannabe citizens to admit wrongdoing and jump through several other hoops throughout the fifteen years they would need to wait to become citizens.

Details have been few surrounding the cause of the Republican defections, but members of the House have speculated that that cause was a lack of support among other Republicans. “The bipartisan group just wasn’t getting support from Republican House leadership,” said Gutierrez. “It’s just not gonna happen now….We need the GOP leadership to acknowledge the votes exist for reform.”

Gutierrez told the Washington Post that his Republican counterparts in the Gang of Seven had been, shortly before defecting, prepared to agree to a compromise. “We had agreed on virtually everything,” Gutierrez says. “The last components were enforcement components” that were down to differences over nuances and language. That isn’t what stopped us from going forward.” Carter and Johnson cite distrust in President Obama’s commitment to enforcing laws as their impetus for quitting the group. The men said in a joint statement, “Instead of doing what’s right for America, President Obama time and again has unilaterally disregarded the U.S. Constitution, the letter of the law and bypassed the Congress—the body most representative of the people—in order to advance his political agenda.”

What the end of the Gang of Seven means for the future of immigration reform is unclear. It is possible that House Republicans will move forward on some aspects of immigration reform that have already been in the works. Alternatively, House Republicans may choose to further stall immigration reform legislation this fall. Either way, the prospects for immigration reform are looking dimmer and dimmer as the year progresses.

Source: SCPR, “With House ‘Gang of Seven’ defections, is immigration reform dead?,” Leslie Berestein Rojas,
September 20, 2013

Source: The Washington Post, “In blow to immigration reform, House ‘gang of seven’ bill looks dead,” Greg Sargent,
September 20, 2013

Source: IB Times, “Immigration Reform 2013: Carter, Johnson Quit House Gang of Seven,” Laura Matthews,
September 20, 2013