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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Immigration reform’s narrow window for survival

    By SEUNG MIN KIM | 1/7/14 6:03 PM EST Updated: 1/7/14 11:43 PM EST

    House GOP leaders have said they still want to take up immigration. | M.Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

    Immigration reform backers see a narrow window in late spring to push a sweeping overhaul through the House — a goal that eluded them in 2013.

    The politics of immigration in the Republican-controlled chamber is still tough — and might be impossible — with many lawmakers opposed to any measure that could be seen as providing amnesty to millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally.

    But proponents of an immigration rewrite on and off Capitol Hill hope the tension will ease once Republicans get past primary season and don’t have to worry about challenges to their conservative credentials.

    “For many members, they’d be more comfortable when their primaries are over,” said California Rep. Darrell Issa, an influential Republican who has favored immigration reform.

    Alfonso Aguilar, the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said waiting out the primaries makes “perfect sense” — although he’s not convinced that the GOP base is as riled up over immigration as it is over other issues such as Obamacare.

    “However, perception is reality, so you have members that are concerned, and the perception is out there that our base does not like this,” Aguilar said.

    Jeremy Robbins, the executive director of the Partnership for a New American Economy — the pro-reform group with ties to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — said reform “certainly gets easier” after the primaries pass.

    “I think there are multiple viable windows … and that makes us optimistic,” Robbins said, adding that primary deadlines are a “big factor.”

    “We are planning all of our organizing around these windows,” he said.

    The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a broad immigration overhaul last June, but the effort stalled in the House, where Republicans are pursuing a piecemeal strategy of individual bills instead of one comprehensive piece of legislation.

    House Republican leaders have said publicly that they still want to take up immigration reform but have not committed to a specific time frame for bringing bills up for a vote. In a memo sent to members earlier this month, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) listed immigration among several issues that “may be brought to the floor over the next few months.”

    Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing their own comprehensive immigration overhaul bill that has three Republican co-sponsors, but it isn’t likely to make it to the House floor.

    Even if they wanted to, it would be tough to push immigration to the top of the agenda. The beginning of the congressional year is clogged with deadlines for other must-do legislative items such as passing a funding bill to keep the government running and approving a new five-year farm bill.

    And another major fiscal deadline looms in late February or early March: the debt ceiling.

    The primary season will be in full swing by that point. Though primaries can occur as late as September, most of the filing deadlines for more than 80 percent of sitting House Republicans will have come and gone by the end of April, according to a POLITICO analysis.

    Three of the five states with the largest number of House Republicans in their delegations — Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio — will have held their primaries by the end of May. Texas is the earliest, with a March 4 primary. The two others — California and Florida — are where Republican lawmakers generally have been more amenable to an immigration overhaul.

    But some Republicans aren’t enthusiastic about waiting out the primary calendar, noting that unforeseen circumstances could take over Capitol Hill’s legislative agenda. That’s what happened last fall when the crisis in Syria, the government shutdown and the fallout over Obamacare demanded lawmakers’ attention.

    “I think that’s too cute by half,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Gang of Eight that wrote the immigration bill in the Senate.

    But other immigration backers disagree. Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who had labored in immigration negotiations for months with House Republicans, said filing deadlines for primary candidates could be a key factor on the timing for any immigration bills.

    “It depends where you are. I know in my delegation, they’re not concerned about primary challengers over immigration,” Yarmuth said. “On the other hand, I think Texas matters.”

    Yarmuth was part of the House bipartisan group with two Texas Republicans — Sam Johnson and John Carter – that privately negotiated for months on a comprehensive immigration bill but disbanded in the fall. The two Texans, after facing heat back home during the August recess about their work on immigration reform, announced in September that they were quitting the group.

    Republicans have reason to be concerned after watching onetime tea party darling Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) lock arms with four Senate Democrats and three Republicans to craft a sweeping immigration overhaul with a pathway to citizenship — only to see his poll numbers tumble. And that message is being relayed to advocates — one House Republican told a member of the pro-reform U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that it was likely the chamber will move on immigration bills after certain primary deadlines, according to a source familiar with the conversation.

    But it’s unclear whether a lawmaker’s stance on immigration will actually matter in a primary.

    Several influential outside groups who have muscled their way into GOP primaries in the past few election cycles say immigration isn’t an issue they’re involved in. Officials from the Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks all say they plan to stay out of the immigration fight.

    Heritage Action is one major conservative advocacy group that has lobbied Capitol Hill against the type of immigration reform that passed the Senate, but the organization doesn’t get involved in electoral politics.

    Still, the Madison Project, a conservative organization chaired by former Kansas GOP Rep. Jim Ryun, says it will make sure immigration remains a top issue in key congressional races. The group has already made several endorsements in Senate and House races, most notably backing Milton Wolf, a distant cousin of President Barack Obama, over sitting Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

    “Immigration policy is absolutely one of the biggest concerns for conservatives in the coming years, and it will definitely be a make-or-break issue with candidates,” the group’s policy director, Daniel Horowitz, said in an email. “Whereas a few years ago, this issue was basically dormant, it is now something we feel all our candidates must get right.”

    There are at least two political groups aimed at backing candidates who take a tougher stance on immigration, but they are not well-known: U.S. Immigration Reform PAC and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

    The latter group called for a primary challenger for sophomore Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) after she said in a statement that she favored a legal work status for the millions who are living in the country illegally, while toughening border security.

    Now, she faces an intraparty contest from conservative talk show host Frank Roche, who said in a statement that one motivating factor behind his candidacy was Ellmers’s “support for the comprehensive immigration reform legislation making its way through Congress.” A campaign spokeswoman for Ellmers said the campaign was not concerned about the role that immigration could have in the primary race.

    Though anecdotes of immigration-fueled challenges may be few, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another co-author of the Gang of Eight bill, said of a primary threat: “If it’s in the minds of people, it’s legitimate.”

    “If it helps to do this after some primary dates are behind us, fine,” said Graham, who expects the immigration issue to surface in his own primary race. “I just want to get the thing done.”
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  2. #2
    Senior Member oldguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    “For many members, they’d be more comfortable when their primaries are over,” said California Rep. Darrell Issa, an influential Republican who has favored immigration reform.
    On Rush Limbaugh show today his opinion is that Boehner will wait until after primaries then produce a bill granting illegals work permits with no voting rights which the GOP hierarchy thinks will get an OK from conservatives.
    Last edited by oldguy; 01-08-2014 at 03:58 PM.
    I'm old with many opinions few solutions.

  3. #3
    Administrator ALIPAC's Avatar
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    Nov 2004
    Gheen, Minnesota, United States
    Thanks for posting this. Will review and decide a direction to take on this.

    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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