Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Houston-area Republican has moved into a key role in the ongoing discussion of comprehensive immigration reform.

Rep. Ted Poe of Humble has been appointed Vice Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee and the chairman of the all-Republican Immigration Reform Caucus.

“Our immigration system has been broken for decades,” Poe said. “Now is the time for Congress to take the lead and work together to craft a permanent solution. Politics must not continue to trump people.”

In an interview, Poe predicted that reform will likely progress as a series of legislative measures, instead of “one big package.” One major important step to immigration reform is improving the country’s identification system, he said.

“We first have to identify who’s in the country, or else you won’t be able to solve other problems (with immigration),” he said. “Then, I think all other issues – length of stay and temporary or permanent workers – will work off of an improved identification system.”

The Texas-Mexico border stretches for over 1,200 miles. Fellow Texas Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, an executive member of the caucus, said Poe’s appointment is a natural fit.

“It’s appropriate to have a Texan on board. We in Texas experience the impact of the broken immigration system more acutely than any other state in the country,” Flores said.

Despite the caucus’ current partisan makeup, Poe said, ultimately, successful legislation “must be bipartisan.”

“The IRC will serve as a vehicle to bring people together to discuss what immigration reform should look like and how it can be accomplished,” he said.

Immigration has been at the forefront of many discussions among Congress and the Oval Office. At a recent speech in Las Vegas, President Obama promised efforts to fix immigration policies and the issue of illegal immigration which, he said, left “11 million people living in the shadows.”

Poe has pushed hard for more secure borders, introducing several pieces of legislation to amp up the law enforcement presence and redirecting equipment returning from the Iraq War for use along the border.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is also an executive member of the caucus.

Flores said in addition to better border security, he wants the caucus to discuss ways to adjust the naturalization process, visas, and keeping employers from hiring illegal workers.

Poe was recommended for the position by former chairman Brian Bilbray, a San Diego Republican defeated in the 2012 general election.

Rep. Ted Poe named chair of GOP’s ‘Immigration Reform Caucus’ | Texas on the Potomac | a blog