Next on the Agenda: Immigration Reform?

Posted: Oct 16, 2013 6:20 PM

The government shutdown isn’t even officially over yet, but President Obama is already trying to pin Republicans in another corner over immigration reform.

In an interview with Univision yesterday, the president said that once the federal government reopened, he would “be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated that sentiment in today’s press briefing:

“The President believes that one of the consequences of these manufactured crises is that time is taken away from the pursuit of other goals that we have as a nation, and that includes economic goals…and it goes also to the project of bringing about legislation that he can sign that comprehensively reforms our immigration system in this country.

“Now, that legislation passed the Senate with a significant bipartisan majority, and he absolutely believes that the House ought to take up that legislation and pass it.”

Immigration reform is certainly something our country needs. Fixing our broken system is long overdue. But, as Americans are seeing so clearly right now with the rollout of Obamacare, simply forcing through a large, complex piece of legislation is never the correct answer; and it’s certainly too important an issue to be used politically.

Although the American people are fed up with Washington’s charades, President Obama was quick to blame Republicans in his Univision interview, saying, “We had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate [on immigration]. The only thing right now that’s holding it back is, again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives.”

Leadership in the House has made it clear that the Senate’s immigration bill will not go to the floor for a vote. While supporters of the bill have said there would be enough Democratic support to push the bill through, the Hastert Rule – a rule to prevent votes on legislation that does not garner the support of a majority of the majority in the House of Representatives – would tie Speaker Boehner’s hands.

Last month, Obama has said that while he supports the Senate bill and legislation that provides comprehensive immigration reform, he could be open to working with the House through a piece-meal process, although the thought of the White House productively working through issues with House Republicans is laughable at this point.

Instead of going at it in one fell swoop, the House has several pieces of immigration related bills in the works; four pieces have already been marked up and passed out of the House Judiciary Committee – the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (H.R.2278), Agricultural Guestworker “AG” Act(H.R. 1773), Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1772), and the Supplying Knowledge Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act (H.R. 2131). Republican goals include increasing border security, improving the legal immigration system so as to create more jobs and boost the economy, finding the appropriate legal status for illegal immigrants, and effectively enforcing immigration rules.

A committee aide told Townhall that the step-by-step approach to immigration was imperative for methodically reviewing each component to ensure the reform is done right. In addition to passing the judiciary legislation, the committee has held a dozen immigration hearings and multiple educational briefings for members of Congress and their staff on current immigration laws.

At this time, forcing a vote on immigration reform in the House seems not only improbable, but dangerous to any potential progress. Republicans in both the House and the Senate have shown that immigration reform is indeed a priority and very important to our national narrative, but there is no room for political posturing if there is to be any hope of finding compromise on this divisive issue.

Americans don’t need – or want – another Obamacare. A Band-Aid solution won’t work. What we need now is a real, viable chance at open and fair debate in order to move this country forward with lasting comprehensive immigration reform.

Recommended Townhall Video