Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) was told today by House GOP leaders that there will be no vote on immigration this year. In an interview with Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, Diaz-Balart expressed dismay at the GOP leadership’s decision: “We have a historic opportunity to fix a system everyone knows is broken. We’re squandering that opportunity.” He went on to criticize his colleagues for tying the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to the current refugee situation at the border: “I don’t know how deporting someone who has been here for many years, who has done everything, gone to school — I don’t know how that helps.” Diaz-Balart repeated his disappointment at a press conference immediately following the interview.
Following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while here in Washington D.C. a politician speaks the truth. Today, Rep. Diaz-Balart did just that. He called out the House Republican leadership for blocking what most agree is the best opportunity Congress has had to enact landmark immigration reform legislation in a generation. He then criticized the Republican meme that the June 2014 border situation was caused by a June 2012 decision by the President to help DREAMers who arrived in this country before June 2007.
Diaz-Balart’s comments underscore that House leaders have opted to bear hug the Steve King nativist wing of the party. In doing so, they have squandered a huge opportunity to get right on immigration reform and with the changing American electorate. They have ceded the initiative to the President, and he should respond, as he’s promised, with bold executive action that does what he can within existing legal authority. And given that Republicans seem likely to also block resources needed to respond to the border situation, most likely the President will have to go it alone on that challenge as well. The implications are clear: until we elect members of Congress who are actually interested in progress and not just politics, it will be hard to put in place the modernized immigration system the nation wants and needs.