Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The nativist and anti-immigrant forces of the Tea Party were hoping to slow-walk immigration reform to death in the House, but on Tuesday a group of more than 600 leaders from roughly 40 states descended on the Capitol, taking aim at House Republicans who they think could support broad legislation. Business-Conservative Alliance Presses for Immigration Action:
On Tuesday, the group of more than 600 leaders from roughly 40 states descended on the Capitol for meetings with nearly 150 Republican lawmakers. They are largely taking aim at House Republicans who they think could support a broad immigration overhaul, including some sort of legal status for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. The leaders are urging the lawmakers to take a more proactive role in pushing immigration legislation to a House vote.
“Our fly-in today is about moving votes on the Hill in support of reasonable immigration reform,” Randel K. Johnson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president for immigration and labor issues, said in a conference call with reporters. “I’m confident we’re going to move the ball forward.”
The event’s sponsors include the Chamber of Commerce; FWD.us, a political action group founded by Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook; the National Immigration Forum; and the Partnership for a New American Economy, which is led by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Marriott Jr.
The effort kicked off in the morning with several panel discussions at the Chamber of Commerce, including one conversation in which the Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonprofit based in Washington, unveiled a new study that found a broad immigration overhaul would help the economy.
The push comes as conflicting messages continue to emerge from the immigration debate on Capitol Hill.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and an author of the Senate-passed immigration bill that includes a path to citizenship for those immigrants already in the country illegally, seemed to backpedal slightly on Saturday. His spokesman told Breitbart News, a conservative news outlet, that House conservatives should not fall for a “ruse” that could lead to one of their more narrow, piecemeal immigration bills being used as vehicle to enter a conference negotiation between the House and the Senate, from which a broader immigration bill could emerge.
The Arizona Republic reports, Immigration reform advocates pressure House GOP to end opposition:
Lawmakers have come under an unprecedented wave of lobbying from immigration-reform supporters on the right and left in recent days, keeping hopes for the legislation alive in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
A small legion of pro- reform business, religious and law-enforcement leaders have converged on Capitol Hill this week to press lawmakers for action, and a comprehensive Democratic bill won its first GOP supporters.
At the same time, immigrant advocates also are visiting congressional offices and holding prayer vigils outside lawmakers’ residences, as happened last week at the Peoria home of U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.
The developments come as time runs short on supporters’ goal of action on immigration reform before the end of the year. The prognosis for bipartisan cooperation is grim if work on the issue slides into 2014, a congressional midterm-election year.
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A number of hard-line House Republicans, estimated at 20 to 40 members of Boehner’s GOP conference, have made it clear that they have no interest in voting for what they consider to be “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.
However, reform backers point to encouraging signs in addition to the intense push by the business lobby.
Key House Republicans, including Reps. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Darrell Issa of California, reportedly are working on proposals to address the status of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who already have settled in the United States, which is the central issue for Democrats and immigration activists.
The Democrat-controlled Senate on June 27 passed a sweeping reform bill that included a 13-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants who pass background checks, pay assessed taxes and fines and take other steps to get right with the law, as well as a massive investment in border security.
There are indications that some Republicans are becoming impatient with the House inaction on piecemeal bills that have been talked about since the Senate bill passed. Two House Republicans — Reps. Jeff Denham of California and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida — have become the first two GOP lawmakers to sign onto a comprehensive immigration bill offered by House Democrats.
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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a former 12-year House member who helped negotiate the Senate bill, said Monday on Twitter that momentum appears to be building in the House. “That’s good news for Arizona, and the country,” he said in the message.
For their part, Boehner and his fellow House Republican leaders have not yet publicly declared immigration reform dead, which even the most pessimistic reform supporters say means there is still a chance the House could act in November or early December.
House committees so far have approved five bills, including legislation to strengthen border security and require employers to use a federal database to ensure they are hiring people who are legally eligible to work in the United States.
“The speaker said last week, ‘I still think immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed. And I’m hopeful,’ ” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday via e-mail. “He added that he supports a step-by-step immigration process.”
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Peoria Vice Mayor Tony Rivero is a conservative Republican who urged Arizona’s GOP congressmen to support reform this year. His city needs more farmworkers who are legally authorized to work, and it needs its undocumented residents to come out of the shadows, he said.
“My message to our congressional delegation is that, as a constituent and a conservative Republican, I support a solution to this problem,” Rivero said. “We need to secure the border, identify the people who are here illegally and put them on a path to legality and put enforcement measures in place to make sure we aren’t here again in 10 years.”
Former Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said he told members of Arizona’s congressional delegation that the current immigration system makes police officers’ jobs more complicated.
“Every community is trying to solve the problem in a different way,” he said. “In some places, you (an undocumented immigrant) can get a driver’s license. In some places, you can’t. Some places are very liberal and report almost no crimes (committed by undocumented immigrants). Others deport you for just minor infractions. There’s great confusion among the law-enforcement community about what the rules are and what their authority is.”
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Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the group of Arizonans that flew in as part of the U.S. Chamber-led D.C. visit were going to meet with all nine House members from Arizona. After morning meetings with Republican Reps. Paul Gosar, Matt Salmon and David Schweikert, Hamer said the sessions were positive.
“There is complete agreement that we have a busted immigration system,” he said. “It’s fair to say that there is an understanding that we need immigration reform. It’s very clear that the House is going to pass its vision for immigration reform. If it’s simply the Senate bill or bust, then nothing will happen.”
Flake said he believes the methodical and strategic lobbying by the business community, faith groups and activist organizations will help motivate the House. He said he is OK with House Republicans taking a step-by-step strategy rather than passing a comprehensive bill like the one he helped craft in the Senate.
“My position is, if you can move it piecemeal or sequentially, that’s fine,” Flake said. “If you have to go comprehensive, that’s fine. Let’s get something to the president’s desk.”
Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-reform organization America’s Voice, said the two House Republicans who signed on to the alternative Democratic bill also are examples of momentum.
“When that bill was first introduced, it was widely panned as a Democratic ‘message bill’ that was going nowhere and was setting up the blame game in a run toward 2014,” Sharry said. “But because Democrats made the smart move of making sure every policy in the bill was passed with bipartisan support either in the Senate or the House, it has become a serious offering and a place where Republicans can go. I think you will see more Republicans getting on board.”
Because of Boehner’s leadership style and uneasy relationship with many of his rank-and-file members, Sharry said, it may take “a convergence and emergence of a critical mass of Republicans to convince leadership to go forward.”
Frank Sharry described A way forward on immigration reform to Greg Sargent a couple of weeks ago:
It’s a longshot, but in an interview with me, Frank Sharry, the executive director of pro-immigration America’s Voice, explained how it would work.
The whole thing turns on this: Sharry tells me that if Eric Cantor goes through with his plan to introduce the so-called “KIDS Act,” which gives citizenship only to the one million DREAMers, immigration advocates and many Dems probably would be prepared to accept it — if Republicans are also willing to go to conference negotiations.
“If the KIDS Act is good on the substance, Republicans will be surprised at how much love it gets from immigration reform advocates,” Sharry tells me. “Many of us would encourage Democrats to vote for the KIDS Act, if in exchange Republicans agree to a bicameral negotiation where all issues are on the table, including legalization and citizenship for the 11 million. This would be a stepping stone.”
Even if the KIDS Act is good on substance — which turns on details involving eligibility requirements for citizenship — it would fall far short of what immigration advocates are hoping for, because it doesn’t provide legalization for the 11 million or an achievable path to citizenship. But here’s why Sharry says it’s acceptable as a stepping stone to conference.
The idea is to give Republicans a viable path forward. As York reports, House Republicans are still under pressure from conservatives to not support anything that places legalization before border security. So under this scenario, House Republicans could pass security measures piecemeal, then pass the KIDS Act — which doesn’t include legalization, isn’t “amnesty,” doesn’t run afoul of the security-before-legalization rule, and could conceivably get a majority of House Republicans.
Yes, some conservatives even oppose the KIDS Act, and some would scream with anger at the notion that House Republicans would enter into negotiations. But the point is, the only way any reform passes the House is if conservatives are stiff-armed, at least a bit, at some point. This might be the easiest way to do it, because it doesn’t even require Republicans to vote for legalization.
Once in conference, Sharry and other advocates will insist on citizenship. But the unspoken truth is that there are ways to get agreement on something approximating comprehensive reform by embracing legalization with only some citizenship, as I’ve laid out here. Even GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte has endorsed that outcome. Full citizenship is preferable, but this alternate outcome is better than the status quo.
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Given the state of the House GOP caucus, Republicans can’t pass anything other than security measures on their own. So if they want to pass something, they’d need Dems. The only thing that could get Dems and a majority of House Republicans (to avoid breaking the Hastert Rule) is the KIDS Act. The rest unfolds from there.
This is why Tea-Publicans like Sen. Marco Rubio are warning against any bill being passed in the House -- "It's a trap!" -- because it "could lead to one of their more narrow, piecemeal immigration bills being used as vehicle to enter a conference negotiation between the House and the Senate, from which a broader immigration bill could emerge." Well, no shit, Sherlock. That's how the legislative process works when you are trying to roll obstruction by a tyranny of the minority.