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Speaker Boehner: If You Want to Pass Immigration Reform, Say Goodbye to Goodlatte and Embrace Bipartisanship

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With Goodlatte Uninterested in Getting it Done, Boehner and Other House Leaders Must Work With Champions From Both Parties to Forge a Breakthrough

Since the 2012 elections, there has been a widely shared assessment that Republican leaders want to pass immigration reform for both political and policy reasons.  As Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said to ABC News last November, “This issue has been around far too long…A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself and others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

If it’s true that Speaker Boehner wants to get immigration reform done, why in the world would he entrust the House’s legislative strategy to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)?  By Goodlatte’s own comments it’s increasingly clear he is the wrong person for the job.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, Goodlatte says, “We pass bills all the time that don’t get passed all the way through and signed into law, because we want to spell out to the American people what we think the right solutions to our problems are…I don’t believe immigration reform should be any different than that.”

In other words, let’s just pass some small measures that most House Republicans are comfortable with, let’s not reach out to Democrats to craft an approach that can actually be signed into law, and let’s give ourselves an “A” for effort.

“No wonder Americans are so fed-up with Washington.  Politicians like Chairman Goodlatte aren’t elected to make statements, but to solve problems.  Republican leaders should say good-bye to Goodlatte and work with committed Republicans and Democrats to get it done,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.

No one should be surprised this is Goodlatte’s approach, but what is surprising is that he’s admitting it.  Through his recent comments and policy proposals Goodlatte has made it clear that that he is out of step with the House majority in favor of broad reform.  Today – right now – a majority of House members are prepared to vote for comprehensive reform with a path to citizenship, and they know it can only be done on a bipartisan basis.  Goodlatte wants neither comprehensive reform nor a path to citizenship, and he has demonstrated no interest at all in bipartisanship.  After adopting a more positive tone earlier this year, he seems to be returning to his anti-immigrant roots.  He is, after all, a blue-ribbon winner from the hardline anti-immigrant group Numbers USA.

The choice for Republican leadership is simple.  If they’re serious about turning immigration reform into law, they need to blow past Goodlatte and empower serious Republicans to work with serious Democrats on a serious solution.  They can encourage the Group of 7 to release its bill and mobilize leadership to back its component parts, or devise a new bipartisan process that can forge a legislative breakthrough.  They can make sure that Republicans such as Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) work with Democrats such as Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA).  They can schedule a vote in October on a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.

“It’s up to Speaker Boehner and other Members of House leadership to decide which way this goes.  If he wants to get it done, he’ll back champions who are committed to getting it done.  No process, calendaring or partisan excuses will spare him the harsh judgment of history if he doesn’t,” said Sharry.