House Republicans To Move Forward On Immigration Reform This Summer?

Rumors are circulating again that the House GOP may make an immigration reform pitch before the midterm elections.


Associated Press Erica Congressional reporter Erica Werner sent out a tweet at the end of last week at seemed to suggest that the House Republican leadership may end up making a run at immigration reform sometime this summer:


On some level, this isn’t entirely surprising. As I’ve suggested in the past, once it was clear that there wasn’t going to be action on this issue in 2013, the next available opportunity for action would come in the summer of 2014 after the vast majority of the GOP primaries have ended and the party is gearing up for the General Election in the fall. For the most part, we will reach that point by the end of June with the primaries in South Carolina, although there will be runoff elections in some states in July and possibly August depending on how the remaining primaries in states like South Carolina and Mississippi end up going. If there was going to be any action at all in the House on immigration reform, it has been clear for some time that it would come at this point, when House members no longer have to worry about the possibility of a Tea Party challenger using a vote on the issue against them in an primary. This isn’t entirely unprecedented. The last major effort on immigration reform in 1986 was voted on by the Senate in September and by the House in October just as members were getting ready to leave town to campaign for the final stretch of the 1986 midterm elections. Given the fact that the political mood on this issue inside the GOP is far more negative today than it was in President Reagan’s time, it makes sense that Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the House Leadership would push the votes off until after the primary period has passed, so that they can potentially swing more Republican votes for the measure(s) than they would at another time of the year.

Not surprisingly, this news of possible House action over the summer is not sitting well with anti-reform conservatives.

Allahpundit, for example, is particularly annoyed:

Outrageous. Not the fact that the House leadership wants to do something on immigration; that’s been common knowledge for 18 months. What’s outrageous is the timing, which, if this AP report is accurate, would confirm our most cynical suspicions about just how gutless and unaccountable Republicans are on this issue. I remember critics predicting last year that Boehner wouldn’t bring something to the floor before the House primaries for fear that a backlash among conservative voters would knock out a bunch of incumbents. He’d wait until just after the primaries had ended to do it, so that conservatives would be powerless to exert any influence over the process.


At this point, it doesn’t matter what the bill looks like. You can guess — some sort of modest ENLIST/DREAM amnesty with new security measures built in, designed to irritate conservatives as little as possible. It’s not the substance of it that’s so egregious, it’s the scrupulous unaccountability they’ve demonstrated in trying to pass it. They could have been honest brokers about this by pushing a bill last fall and letting the political chips fall where they may. If that meant primary challenges, so be it; a party that’s as committed to serving its masters in the business lobby as the GOP is should be willing to brave that risk. If the public, including the Republican electorate, is as eager for reform as they claim, they would have been just fine. Instead they’re waiting until practically the minute the primaries are over to reveal their plan, which, let’s face it, is a form of deception. Just like Marco Rubio running in 2010 against “an earned path to citizenship” for illegals and then backing it in 2012 was deception. Just like Mitt Romney pushing “self-deportation” in 2012 and then urging immigration reform before the midterms this year is deception. Just like Eric Cantor campaigning as some hard-ass amnesty opponent before he inevitably pushes a DREAM/ENLIST bill this summer is deception. These people keep lying to you on the assumption that you’ll eat an infinite amount of garbage and then still happily pull the lever for them in November. It won’t stop until you stop. So stop.

It’s no surprise, of course, that opponents of anything approaching immigration reform that includes any hint of so-called “amnesty” would be opposed to what the House Leadership is purportedly planning on doing this summer even before any legislation is made public. The Republican groups that have been pushing for action on this issue, which include both business organizations and evangelical groups, have made it clear that reform needs to include some provision dealing with the people who are in the country illegally. Indeed, as I’ve noted numerous times in the past, the idea that we could reform our immigration laws without dealing with that issue in a rational manner — and, no, taking the position that everyone here illegally must be deported is not rational — would not even qualify as “reform” because it would not deal with one of the most serious immigration problems that we face today. Leaving it unaddressed, or not addressing it completely, would mean that the reform effort was an utter sham and would inevitably required a future Congress deal with the matter.

The anti-reform crowd, of course, doesn’t care about this. Their single-minded obsession with the fact that some people are in the national illegally, whatever it may be motivated by, makes their entire position on immigration hard to take seriously to begin with. Yes, it’s true that there are people in the country who broke the law. At this point, though, that’s water under the bridge. The question we face now is whether we want to continue to allow them to live in the shadows, where the probability that they will end up in a life of actual crime at some point increases substantially. The answer of the anti-reform crowd, outside of the absurd mass deportation suggestions, is to ignore the problem entirely. That’s not a serious political position, and on some level it strikes me as fine if the Republican leadership just chooses to ignore it and proceed forward with a reform bill this summer.

Rick Moran, meanwhile, wonders why we can’t just wait until next year:

What is the problem with waiting until next year when there’s a good chance the GOP will control both houses of Congress, and won’t have to worry about “amnesty?” The Republican’s piecemeal approach to reform — prudent, realistic, and popular — is a far better alternative than passing a fatally flawed Senate bill that no one expects the Obama administration to honor the enforcement provisions. A GOP bill could put real teeth into those provisions, making it far more difficult for the administration to weasel out of their responsibilities to secure the border.

The problems with the ‘maybe next year’ approach are numerous. For one thing, that is essentially the attitude that Washington has taken on this issue for years now, or at least ever since the last serious effort on immigration reform was shut down by a rebellion on the right. Kicking the can down the road doesn’t solve the problem, i just guarantees that the problem will continue to get worse, and it makes it more likely that the can will be kicked again the next time. Additionally, there’s no reason to believe that the prospects for reform will be better in 2015 than they are now, even if the GOP does retake the Senate. In fact, if we don’t get immigration reform this year, the odds are that we won’t get anything at all until 2016. For various reasons, both sides will find it in their interest to let the issue drag out until the 2016 election, and those Republicans who might have higher political ambitions in 2016 aren’t going to be very willing to take sides on such a controversial issue. Realistically, this is likely the last chance we have to act on this issue before 2017, and there’s really no rational reason to delay action.

We still don’t know if the House actually will move forward with an immigration reform bill, or what the substance of that bill will be. However, given the fact that it seems to be annoying the right people it sounds like they might be on to something here.

FILED UNDER: 2014 Election, Borders and Immigration, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    The Republicans are between a rock and a hard place here. Do they alienate the base or alienate the moderates and the Chamber Of Commerce.

  2. legion says:

    You can put this down as my official prediction: No.

    No, this won’t happen this summer. It won’t happen for the same litany of reasons it hasn’t happened for the last 6 years. The GOP is fractured, dysfunctional, and unguided. It would still rather make useless gestures to try and embarrass Obama & the Democrats that even propose anything that would make anything, anywhere better for anyone except the wealthiest 0.1%.

    If you still aren’t convinced, just look back at the top of the article: who is saying the GOP might accomplish something? Speaker Boehner. As long as those two words have any connection at all, the GOP will accomplish _nothing_. Period.

  3. JWH says:

    Apart from the “amnesty” debate, I know that nonprofits that work with asylum applicants would very much like Congress to remove the one-year bar to asylum applications.

  4. Tony W says:

    I agree with those who think this will not come up for vote – but for a different reason. Such an effort would distract them from holding several more “Repeal the ACA” votes that form the substance of this legislative body’s work.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Seems like a lot of speculation to hang on a tweet that only says

    …he’s talking like he might try for an immigration vote in mid-June.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Boehner won’t bring up Immigration because:
    1). He cannot control his caucus.
    2). This is a do-nothing Congress…bringing up immigration would shatter that record.

    But sometime ago you said that Obama was now a lame duck and the rest of his Presidency would amount to bubkis.
    He just proved you wrong again.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    there’s really no rational reason to delay action.

    Ergo, it can not possibly get out of the GOP controlled House of Representatives.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    But wait, what about the coming ONE PARTY STATE?

    Hah! Beat him to it.

  9. superdestroyer says:

    I guess when Sheldon Adelson says jump, Boehner cannot do anything but ask how high. The easiest way for the Republicans to show that they are not beholden to the Wall Street elites would be to take a hard stand against illegal immigration or even more legal immigration. But I guess when it comes down to a fight between the people who give them campaign donations and the people who actually vote for them, the Republicans cannot pass up helping the donor class.

    Also, I guess the Congressional Republicans want to give one last prize to the rich elites before they fade away as a relevant political party.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    This is bad politics from the Republican point of view (which of course means it is good for the country). They will not pass anything, for the umpteenth time, and the cynicism of their pre-election pandering to the Hispanic caucus will be exposed. Rather than be taken in yet again, the caucus will just be reminded of what a useless bunch of bigots the Republican party is.

  11. DrDaveT says:

    House Republicans To Move Forward On Immigration Reform This Summer?

    That’s actually two separate questions:

    1) Move?
    2) Forward?

    Remember, sanity is a vector, but leadership is a scalar…

  12. Dave Francis says:

    The American people who haven’t been brainwashed by the Democrats and their counterparts the Liberals and some instances the Republican Party should vote in future elections, not for the imperfect politician or especially NOT incumbents but the issue that involves your future, your children and their futures. Illegal Immigration as I see it, is a bloody conspiracy. Both political parties are to blame about this never ending deluge of poor, uneducated people. BOTH PARTIES ARE TO BLAME FOR THIS PREDICAMENT WE ARE IN? Obama has told ICE not to detain illegal aliens once they cross the border. THIS PRESIDENT HAS SUCH A BIG MOUTH, THAT NO WONDER WE ARE BEING INVADED? They are already aware that AMNESTY is blowing in the wind. THE CALL GOING OUT, THEY ARE SENDING THEIR KIDS TO OUR POROUS BORDER, ACKNOWLEDGING THEY CAN USE THEM AS A PAWN TO GAIN ENTRY UNDER THE CHAIN MIGRATION LAWS. There is so much lying and corruption emanating from Congress, that honest politician has a hard time keeping their head above the sewerage? Within the walls are your tax dollars that are spread around through the political game of Special interest and cronyism. So much money goes to stupid, unnecessary issues that the waste is in billions of dollars. Most politicians have a loyalty to corporations and big business, whereas the other side brought and paid for by unions and their own special interests. The Republicans have their wave of Agendas, and the Lib-Democrats have their ideas.

    Other than a few honest politicians Washington, DC, is overrun with deceit, cover-ups and bad policies from lobbyists as in the 50 state assemblies. In California, the former Golden State High taxes, bad energy regulations, bigoted policies. Nationwide ugly shadowed issues as releasing 36.000 criminal illegal aliens and the latest releasing dangerous Taliban terrorists for one American soldier who has some questionable answers about leaving his obligated duties The IRS that is out of control and other agencies doing the dirty work of the white House. Then we have a union ownership of most government agencies, policies that promote unemployment and welfare, lawsuits to kill jobs and lawsuits to kill businesses and the major problem of the almost unhindered illegal immigration in the nation. We have election system that is easily compromised as there is no centralized data base. We need a National digital ID card based on the Social Security number, to send the consistent voter fraud

    The national Tea Party leadership is the one and ONLY chance we have to stop the Obama administrations move to towards a Socialist Empire. Tea Party Patriots stands for every American, home to millions who have come together to pursue the American Dream and to keep that Dream alive for their children and grandchildren. The Tea Party is a grassroots movement that brings awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation.
    • To abolish the inequity of the IRS, and deliver to the American people a fair or consumption tax, so nobody escapes paying in the indigenous United States. Not ME, politician…corporation….NOBODY.
    • Only two terms allowed for each politician. No more career individuals in Congress.

    The Democratic assemblies have shown no interest in voter fraud. Go on line today and register to vote—under any name you want. Almost impossible for the State to figure out the name is bogus. Register to vote via mail, as an absentee ballot same result? The state has a signature—so what. Here illegally who cares that it carries a penalty of perjury; so who is going to stop you from registering to vote and then voting? There is no voter ID allowed in California or any Democratic run state. You can register as a voter in Los Angeles and also in Orlando, Florida—or some other location no one will know. Elections in California and most of the other States are as corrupt as mafia run numbers game. Without these rising problem legal immigrants and citizens would be paid a fair wage for work, instead illegal aliens have stolen jobs from construction workers, service industries, health care industry and kids who are looking for some part time employment. Instead they must compete with foreigners who have entered this country, without permission, bring with them criminals, health problems and a needing to apply for public benefits, which Obama gives freely. Employers have been allowed to turn a blind eye by the authorities and the invasion continuous under this Administrations plan.

  13. smartalek says:

    “Apart from the ‘amnesty’ debate…”

    Yes, but aside from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?

  14. DrDaveT says:

    @Dave Francis:

    The American people who haven’t been brainwashed by the Democrats and […]

    Wow. Just… wow.

    You have succeeded in making me fear for my children’s futures, but perhaps not in the way you intended.