Immigration Reform Dead, Both Sides Acknowledge

On June 27, 2014, in Immigration, by Maggie Ernst

The two-year attempt to push immigration reform through Congress is effectively dead and is not likely to be revised until after President Obama leaves office, numerous lawmakers and advocates on both sides of this issue said this week.  Congressional Democrats who have been pushing for a comprehensive immigration bill to match what the Senate passed a year ago have officially given up.

“Nothing’s going to happen,” Rep Luis Guitierrez (D-IL)  said after denouncing his GOP colleagues as inactive in a House floor speech this week.  “My point of view is, this is over….Every day, they become not recalcitrant, but even more energetically opposed to working with us.  How many times does someone have to say no until you understand they mean no”? Gutierrez says he is now turning his attention to the White House, in hopes the president will unilaterally stop deporting undocumented immigrants.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also slammed House Republicans for the year of inaction. “House Republicans have done nothing for the last 365 days,” Reid said. “They claim to be working on jobs bills, and legislation to reduce the deficit. The fact is that the Senate-passed immigration bill reduces the deficit and spurs the economy more than all the House bills currently awaiting Senate action combined.”

Barring a sudden change of heart, Republicans are likely to watch the bill expire at the end of the year with the conclusion of this session of Congress.  “Republicans in the House have a choice: allow a vote on commonsense immigration reform in July, or be the ones to blame for killing it,” Reid added. “Americans want us to fix this nation’s broken immigration system, so let’s do that now.”

Chances of legislation advancing in the House are “next to zero,” said Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a member of a bipartisan group of eight senators who led reform efforts in the Senate.    “It’s a shame,” he added.  But after talking to GOP colleagues in the House, “there’s just no appetite for it right now.”

The President called immigration reform his top priority for his second term. The immigration reform failure leaves about 12 million illegal immigrants in continued limbo over their status and is most likely to increase political pressure on President Obama to act on his own.

Meanwhile, thousands of unaccompanied Central American children have been apprehended crossing illegally into Texas over the past several months.  House Republicans have cited this as evidence that the time is not right for immigration reform that would provide legal status and potential citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants.  Many Republicans are critical of the resident for the current border crisis, while saying the President has not convinced them that he will adequately enforce immigration laws.