Will House Republicans Accept the Senate Proposal for Immigration Reform?

Will House Republicans Accept the Senate Proposal for Immigration Reform?

By Nolan Rappaport

In this Emerging Issues Analysis, Former House Judiciary Committee counsel Nolan Rappaport goes through the recent bipartisan Senate proposal for immigration reform and discusses its pluses, minuses, and prospects in the House of Representatives.


The Time is Right for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

The Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of eight senators, has unveiled a proposal to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. It will form the basis for a bill that its backers hope to introduce in the Senate by March. The group includes Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (R-NJ), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Michael Bennet (D-CO). When they announced it, Senator Schumer said, "We believe this will be the year Congress finally gets this done. ... for the first time ever, there's more political risk [to] opposing immigration reform than supporting it."

Senator Schumer is not the only politician who is expressing optimism about immigration reform. President Barack Obama has said that he thinks an immigration reform bill will be signed into law by year's end, and possibly as early as June. "But President George W. Bush was similarly optimistic" about his immigration reform proposal. "'I'll see you at the bill signing,'" he famously said - only to see the effort fall at the hands of his fellow Republicans in the House." According to former-Representative Chris Cannon (R-UT), once a supporter of the DREAM Act  "and a sponsor of several other ...pro-immigrant bills,... November's election results were 'like a two-by-four to the forehead' of Republican leaders who 'have realized how stupid their position has been.'" Nevertheless, Cannon "warned that conservative Republicans could still sink the effort to overhaul the system, [saying that ] "The intransigents who would rather carp about a potential problem than look for a solution, they'll do whatever they can [to kill the proposed reforms].... I think it's fair to question their political motivations."

Cannon may be right in attributing Republican resistance to political motivation, but that does not change the fact that an immigration reform bill has to be accepted by the House Republicans. Consequently, it will have to satisfy their needs, whatever they may be.

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