House Republicans are in a tricky spot on immigration, and conservative backers of the Senate bill know it. That is why conservative advocates of the Gang of Eight bill are beginning an ad campaign stressing border control:
For all the tough talk about immigration reform, the House has done nothing on border security and the Senate has. Likewise, they’ve done nothing to solve the visa overstay issue, workplace verification or the H-1B visa problem. It is well and good to vaguely declare the Gang of Eight bill insufficient, but certainly it does more for border security and these other issues than House Republicans have managed to do (which is nothing).
The argument that the House can do nothing runs headlong into anti-immigration forces hype about the out-of-control border and the supposed economic burdens of illegal immigration. If it’s such a horrible problem — immigrants pouring over the border and all — why is the House just sitting there?
GOP senators uncomfortable with their no votes and vowing to continue to work for a “better bill” (e.g. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul) would dearly love to promote something, if only to ameliorate the anger from groups (Hispanics and high-tech companies, respectively) who counted on their support.
For critics of the Gang of Eight on the right, this is the time to show what they would do, unless of course what they would do is pretty much what the Senate did minus the path to citizenship, an obvious non-starter. The exercise will prove quite enlightening because, as we know, the border is already very secure (84 percent), the Senate bill threw immense resources at the small remaining problem, and immigration to the U.S. is now less than immigration to Mexico (due to the economy and falling birthrates).
On the path to citizenship, which many conservative critics insist they can countenance so long as the border is secured first, is the difference between an unacceptable, horrible bill and a “conservative” bill merely a few more years of waiting time? Do they want to hold off on the legalization process (and the benefits it entails including payment of back taxes, a background check, learning English) until the border is 89 percent secure? (92.7 percent?)
The House doesn’t like big bills. Fine, make a dozen little ones. (Their objections to the Senate bill are rather unserious, as are the so-called solutions.)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who will oversee the hearings in the House, says he wants to get it “right.” We’re waiting with baited breath. And when a House proposal emerges and passes, then the real legislating with an eye toward solving real issues and passing Congress can begin.