Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Taking a Back Seat to More Pressing Issues?

Comprehensive Immigration Reform - photo by nclr.org

This past Friday, Democrat leaders in the House expressed plans to present a version of the comprehensive immigration bill that the Senate passed earlier in the year. Democrat hopes are riding high that a vote will be called and permitted by GOP leadership but for now the introduction of the bill simply aims to press Republican members to move reform in a positive direction.

Comprehensive immigration reform appears to have hit a standstill in Congress and quickly took a back seat to recent political matters including international relations, national security investigations and the recent government shutdown. Nevertheless, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus indicated that it will continue to bring comprehensive immigration reform to the forefront and will use the introduction of the bill as a rallying point for Democrats.

As reported recently by Huffington Post, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D) of Illinois exclaimed “The Democrats have a responsibility, in the absence of a coordinated bill between Republicans and Democrats, to make an offer, to say ‘here is our position’ to the Republican majority,” Gutierrez said on a call hosted by pro-reform group America’s Voice. “And I think it’s incumbent on the Republican majority to say, ‘we like that’ or ‘here’s our counter-proposal.'”

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) told reporters on the same call that such a bill, combining the Senate measure and House border proposal, would allow advocates to point to specific elements of reform in order to ask whether a Republican member supported it — rather than just the general concept of immigration reform. “Those who have been hiding from the issue will no longer be able to hide,” said Polis, the co-chair of the New Democrat immigration task force.

The opposition has made minimal effort to hide its clear stance on comprehensive immigration reform. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has repeatedly taken the position that he will not bring up the Senate immigration bill for a vote. Democrats to insist this obstacle can be overcome if Boehner breaks away from the non-mandatory, Hastert Rule, a tactic of not allowing a vote on a bill unless a majority of the majority party supports the bill.

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