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Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Some Things Do Not Change After a Primary — Like Republicans' Need to Pass Reform

 

On the House floor this morning:

Some things do not change after a primary. Even a primary result that no one, including the winning candidate, had predicted.

The thing that does not change with the political winds in Washington is the calendar.

There are only 10 legislative days left before the July 4 recess.
Another thing has not changed. The Republican Party and the Republican Leadership has a difficult choice:

They can choose to address the immigration issue head-on and get it resolved – and give the Republican nominee in 2016 a fighting chance in his or her run for the White House – or they go back to the bunker, sharpen their anti-Obama knives and never get to the White House in the next generation, possibly two.

As I have said on this floor before, if there is no serious immigration reform action headed towards a floor vote in the House by July 4, we will not see action at all…

And it will be left up to the President to rescue the country from the worst aspects of our dysfunctional immigration system.

On the Democratic side, we all prefer a legislative solution where the House, like our counterparts in the Senate, pass bills signed by the President.

I suspect there is a lot of agreement on that point from the other side of the aisle.

But in the absence of anything resembling leadership from the legislature, the President will not just sit back and watch a bad situation get worse and he will act in accordance with existing law to protect all the immigrants he can. I believe he can protect literally millions of them through executive action.

Immigration reform is not dead. It might just be moving to the White House for action if none comes from this House.

So with 10 days left before July 4, where do we stand? The Majority Leader released his legislative schedule for the month of June — reforming our immigration system is nowhere to be found.

Immigration is the single most important issue to address for the Republican Party’s ability to be competitive at the national level after this fall – and it is nowhere on the schedule before this fall.

So what lessons have we learned?

Half-measures to legalize some immigrants here and allow legal immigration for some industries there does not seem to have much political traction with conservative voters in the South.

Blocking sensible immigration reform and sending out mailers decrying — quote – “amnesty” at the last minute does not seem to have much traction with southern voters in conservative Districts.

Articulating a firm argument for why deporting 11 or 12 million people is not a realistic policy; defending your position that legal immigration is preferable to illegal immigration; and making clear that the only way to actual border security is a combination of enforcement, legal immigration, and address the legal status for immigrants already living and working here – that seems to work pretty well with Southern conservative voters.

That is what the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Graham, would tell us. Or the gentle lady from North Carolina, Ms. Ellmers.

Or every poll that has been taken in recent memory.

And we know that in every part of the country outside of the most conservative districts — mainly in the south – supporting the end of illegal immigration and a broad and rigorous legalization combined with serious workplace and border enforcement is not only the only policy that works, it is the only policy that is politically viable.

So every pundit on TV last night said it was time to man the barricades. They said immigration reform with a Republican stamp in a Republican Congress is dead because the American people want to be protected from the threatening outside world and Republicans want to be protected from their threatening voters.

But it is still up to the Republican Leadership how they plan to proceed.

Not a single Republican who opposes immigration reform needs to vote for it. Not a one. And we will still have a majority of the House voting to do what a majority of Americans want them to do, address immigration.

Given the chaos of our current system, which is being stretched to the limit to handle the child refugees fleeing the violence in Central America – it is up to Republican Leaders to lead or get out of the way of the American people.

Next week in Judiciary, we will have a hearing on the crisis of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America and we will pointing fingers at everyone but ourselves and not — I would note – using the few remaining legislative days available to craft a sensible border and immigration strategy as our colleagues did in the Senate almost a full year ago.

Let us not accept the latest excuse for inaction on immigration, especially from those who want no action to be taken even under the best of conditions.

This nation built by and sustained by 400 years of immigration needs a coherent immigration system and we need politicians brave enough to craft one.