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How Will We Know the House GOP is Truly Interested in Passing Immigration Reform? When They Blow Past Goodlatte and Work With Democrats

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Yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) appeared on the Washington, DC NPR affiliate’s“Kojo Nnamdi Show.”  And once again, he made it painfully clear why he should not be entrusted with driving the House immigration agenda forward.

According to MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin’s assessment of yesterday’s radio appearance, “Goodlatte said he expected votes soon, perhaps in October, on a series of smaller House bills on border security, internal enforcement, guest workers, and high-tech visas.”  Of note, none of the House Judiciary Committee measures championed by Goodlatte have attracted bipartisan support.  None of the Goodlatte measures address the status of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the nation or provide them with a path to citzenship, something supported by the American people by a 3-1 margin.  And none of Goodlatte comments point to a bipartisan process – in the House or with the Senate – that is the only way broad immigration reform can get approved by Congress.

Moreover, Goodlatte is championing one measure that is sure to be a poison pill with Democrats, and by itself could doom immigration reform this year.  His SAFE Act would encourage every state to mimic the abuses of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona, including the racial profiling of people who appear to be immigrants – even if they were born in the U.S – as well as the criminalization of immigrants who want a chance to earn citizenship in America.

Goodlatte also said that “House Republicans would only proceed with majority support from within their party.”  This is but another indication of Goodlatte’s lack of seriousness.  The so-called “Hastert Rule” should be called the “Hastert Excuse.”  Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has disregarded it three times already this year.  The House leadership aide who coined the term, John Feehery, told The Atlantic’s Molly Ball that Speaker Boehner “ought to ditch” it.  As Ball characterized of their conversation: “Given the current ‘ungovernable’ state of the House GOP caucus, he told me, Boehner must balance the risk to his own standing with the ‘larger reputational risk’ to the Republican Party.”  The stubborn fact is that right now, today, a bipartisan majority exists in the House of Representatives to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship.  Hiding behind the Hastert Excuse will not absolve the GOP should it be invoked to kill immigration reform.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The Bob Goodlatte approach is a road to nowhere.  Of the measures he has ushered through his Judiciary Committee, all are partisan and piecemeal, and at least one is a poison pill.  The road to immigration reform requires House leaders to blow past Goodlatte and embrace a bipartisan approach.  In fact, we’ll know House Republican leaders are serious about passing immigration reform when they get serious about working with Democrats on all aspects of immigration reform, including the central issue, which is what to do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants settled in America.