Despite warnings from their leaders, most House Republicans oppose immigration reform


Are THESE PEOPLE wacky or what?

Meeting for the first time as a group to hash out their approach to immigration, House Republicans on Wednesday came down overwhelmingly against a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, putting in jeopardy the future of sweeping legislation that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Despite the resistance, Speaker John A. Boehner warned about the steep price of inaction, telling House Republicans that they would be in a weaker political position against a bipartisan Senate coalition and President Obama if they did nothing to answer the immigration measure passed by the Senate last month.

House Republicans huddled in a crucial two-and-a-half-hour session in the basement of the Capitol as their leaders tried to devise some response to the demand for immigration legislation, especially the Senate provision that would grant a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. The bill also mandates tough border security provisions that must be in place before the immigrants can gain legal status.

The bottom line was clear: The Republican-controlled House does not plan to take up anything resembling the Senate bill, which many believe is bad policy and smacks of an amnesty strongly opposed by the conservatives who hold sway over much of the rank and file. The House also does not intend to move very quickly, and some Republicans are wary of passing any measure at all that could lead to negotiations with the Senate, talks that could add pressure to the House to consider a broader plan.

The Republicans met just hours after former President George W. Bush added his voice to the immigration debate during a naturalization ceremony at his new presidential center outside Dallas. His speech was a reminder to Republicans that he had long believed it necessary to overhaul the system in a way much as the Senate bill outlined…

House Republican leaders struck a defiant tone after the meeting, issuing a joint statement declaring the Obama administration “cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate.” Mr. Boehner repeatedly reassured Republicans that he would pass nothing through the House that did not have the support of a majority of his party, and lawmakers left the meeting certain that nothing significant would move through the House until September — and possibly much later.


House Republicans find themselves in a difficult spot on immigration, caught between the needs of the national party to broaden its appeal to Hispanics, and the views of constituents in gerrymandered, largely safe conservative districts.

Many returned to Congress this week after hearing from constituents in their districts who do not trust the federal government to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, as well as mounting evidence that conservative opinion is beginning to harden against a broad immigration push.

House Republicans largely believe that the concerns of their national party elite are overblown, and that their political future and 2016 prospects do not hinge on passing an immigration bill this year…

 Wisconsin, a respected voice in the Republican Party who has been working behind the scenes to help push an immigration overhaul, spoke during the meeting in favor of immigration generally. He said fixing the nation’s broken system would be good for both economic growth and national security.

Emotions ran high, with members lining up 10 deep at each of two microphones waiting to speak their piece. Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, read an obscure line from “America the Beautiful” to make his point that respect for the rule of law must be inviolable: “Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law,” he intoned.


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