Immigration Talk on the Hill

Jun 5, 2014

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Proponents of comprehensive immigration reform blame two Virginia Republicans for inaction on the issue in the House.

Virginia maintains some power brokers in the Republican controlled House. Any changes to the nation's immigration laws need to pass through the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte.  He's been mum on the subject of late.

“I’m was just wondering if there’s any timeline on immigration reform to come up?”

“I do not know of a timeline on it. So I’m not discussing that.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is also a Virginian. He says he hasn't brought immigration for a vote this summer because rank and file Republicans don't believe the president will enforce border security.  

"We've got a lack of trust between this House and the White House."

When it comes to immigration, Democratic Congressman Jim Moran says his state is proving a roadblock.  “Virginia’s a major problem.”

Moran says the arithmetic is easy. “Bob is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. It has to go through Judiciary. He’s not going to let a comprehensive bill go through Judiciary. And Eric Cantor is the majority leader and he’s going to back up Goodlatte.”

As this year's campaigns heat up, more Republicans in tough races are now calling for votes on immigration reform.

Meanwhile, protests calling out Virginia's two 'power brokers' are also on the rise.
Illinois Democratic Congressman Louis Gutierrez is one of the loudest voices calling for immigration reform in this Congress. He recently held a rally in Cantor’s home town of Virginia…but he has to walk a tightrope…calling for Cantor to act on the one hand, while also trying not to alienate the man who holds the keys. “I haven’t been on honing in on anybody in particular. I was in – I’ve been in – I mean, I’ve been across this country.”

As for why he ended up in Richmond? Gutierrez says it was a simple choice.
“I’m simply saying at this particular – even in Richmond, Virginia, Mr. Cantor, there are people, your constituents, that need help. That’s my only point. They need help across this country. And please, give us a vote.”

Moran says while other Republicans are starting to get it, Goodlatte and Cantor are setting their party back. “You’re going to have a revenge of the cradle direct to the Republican Party. Demographics are going to bury them as long as they take such strident stances on issues like immigration. It’s just – it’s not in their long-term interest. Some people have figured that out.” 

Still, many rank and file Republicans, like Virginia's Rob Wittman, say they agree with party leaders like Cantor and Goodlatte for not allowing a comprehensive measure to see the light of day.  “I do think there’s some aspects of immigration reform that we can address. I think the bigger concern is, you know, what does that turn into and does it turn into something more than just addressing these areas that we know need immediate attention.”

Wittman says members of his party in the House oppose the comprehensive immigration reform that overwhelmingly passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis. “People are deeply concerned about any form of amnesty.”

Without any movement from the two Virginians in GOP leadership, it seems like even those immediate national needs will continue to sit un-addressed in the House.