While the Senate has been holding hearings on the newly-introduced “Gang of Eight’s” sweeping immigration reform bill, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said he will introduce the first parts of the House’s effort to address immigration reform — but it will do it in a different way.
Instead of waiting for the House bipartisan group to introduce their own sweeping immigration reform bill like the Senate did, Virginia Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte will introduce a series of separate immigration bills this week; one addressing farm workers and one on requiring all employers to use E-verify.
Goodlatte said that this step-by-step approach — instead of one sweeping immigration bill — is better for the House. “The House of Representatives is the people’s house — it is where all members listen and brings ideas forward and then work together to find common acceptable solutions,” he said.
The House would have more time to examine certain aspects of the immigration bill separately, added Goodlatte, though he did say he was looking forward to hearing from the bipartisan House “Gang of Six.” The group, which includes Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Idaho Republican Raul Labrador, and Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, is close to presenting their bipartisan immigration reform proposal after years of meeting on the issue.
Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said, “it’s unfortunate that Goodlatte is moving forward before first waiting to hear from the Gang of Six and deferring to this group of Democrats and Republicans who have been working together and are pretty close to presenting a bill.” Hincapie adds, though, that “it’s good he continues to say his announcement today does not preclude a bill from the Gang of Six from moving forward.”
But Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration reform organization, said Goodlatte’s decision might make things harder in the House.
“It appears to us that this move makes it harder for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) to find a way forward, and it makes it easier for opponents of broad reform to oppose comprehensive reform while claiming they support something,” says Sharry. “While modernizers want the Republican Party to achieve a major policy victory and regain its electoral competitiveness with Latino voters, Goodlatte’s move seems intent on dooming both.”
House “Gang of Six” and Judiciary Committee member Luis Gutierrez was not concerned that today’s announcement would jeopardize legislative action on immigration reform in the House. “Today’s press conference confirms what I have been saying publicly and privately about the new tone and new interest among Republicans. They want to solve the immigration policy issue and not just exploit it for partisan politics,” said Gutierrez.
“The two House Republican leaders from the Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte and Gowdy, are in a very different place than some Republicans we have heard in the House and Senate who want to slow down reform so that they can kill it,” added Gutierrez, saying, “there [is] still a group of Republicans who prefer the current mess to the enhanced security and orderliness we will achieve through immigration reform.”
Gutierrez was participating today in a “Keep Families Together NOW” immigrant family vigil organized by Casa in Action at the Senate today. The Senate Judiciary Committee has held hearings on the recently introduced immigration reform proposal, and it announced today that markup of the Senate bill will take place two weeks from today, when Republicans will begin introducing amendments to the bill.
Hincapie says she is hopeful the process will go without delays in the Senate. “I am cautiously optimistic,” she says.