Loren Avis holds an American flag while attending a Defend Colorado Now rally at the State Capitol in Denver, Thursday, June 15, 2006. Hoping to send a strong message to state and federal leaders, illegal immigration critics on Thursday kicked off another round of signature-gathering for proposal to deny most services to those in the country illegally, even though a court has barred it from the ballot.
AP: GOP leaders: No immigration bill this year
In a defeat for President Bush, Republican congressional leaders said Tuesday that broad immigration legislation is all but doomed for the year, a victim of election-year concerns in the House and conservatives’ implacable opposition to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
“Our number one priority is to secure the border, and right now I haven’t heard a lot of pressure to have a path to citizenship,” said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., announcing plans for an unusual series of hearings to begin in August on Senate-passed immigration legislation.
“I think it is easy to say the first priority of the House is to secure the borders,” added Rep. Roy Blunt (news, bio, voting record), the GOP whip.
Both the Speaker and GOP Whip are correct. In fact, Republican Congressmen who run from the President’s “Path to Citizenship,” poll better with voters. Look at the election of Brian Bilbray in California just a few weeks ago.
In deference to the president, neither Hastert nor any other Republican official in either house said publicly that the president’s ambitious plan â€” including a guest worker program as well as an opportunity for citizenship for many illegal immigrants â€” was dead for the year.
But several Republicans in both houses, speaking on condition of anonymity, were less guarded.
“There will be no path to citizenship,” said one lawmaker who attended a strategy session in Hastert’s office.
In other words, the Senate Immigration Bill passed over the objection of many GOP Senators is DEAD.
Some officials added that Republicans have begun discussing a pre-election strategy for seizing the political high ground on an issue that so far has served to highlight divisions within the party. Among the possibilities, these officials said, are holding votes in the House or Senate this fall on additional measures to secure the borders, or on legislation that would prevent illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security payments or other government benefits.
Hastert announced no schedule for the completion of hearings. He and other members of the leadership sidestepped numerous times when asked whether a House-Senate compromise along the lines of what Bush has sought could come to a vote by year’s end. “I am not putting any timetable on this thing, but I think we need to get this thing done right,” the speaker told reporters.
The Republican-controlled House passed border security legislation last year, largely along party lines. By contrast, the Senate approved a bipartisan bill calling for tougher border enforcement; penalties against employers who hire illegal immigrants, a new guest worker program and a shot at citizenship for most of the estimated 12 million immigrants in the country illegally.
The measure won the support of only 23 of the Senate’s 55 Republicans. Frist, a likely presidential contender for 2008, is under pressure from conservatives not to agree to a compromise bill they oppose. Democrats, on the other hand, are insisting on assurances that any final bill will remain bipartisan.
Hastert told reporters he had conveyed his views on immigration privately to Bush in recent days, and other officials said opinions among House Republicans hardened when Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray won a special election this month in the San Diego area. Bilbray campaigned for tougher immigration measures than Bush favors, and equated the president’s approach to amnesty.
Well, the President is wrong and does not have to run for re-election EVER. All GOP members of the House are up at the polls this November and MUST have the will of the people to continue. Believe me voters want the Mexican border secured, illegal immigration stopped and stopped immediately prior to any “pathway to citizenship.”
Several Republican officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hastert and the president had expressed differing views at one meeting about the importance of immigration in Bilbray’s victory. These officials said Hastert assigned it greater weight than the president. The
Republican National Committee ran a 72-hour program in the campaign’s final days that many Republicans credit with maximizing the vote for the winner.
Additionally, the RNC conducted a postelection poll of the San Diego-area district that suggests voters take a dim view of citizenship for illegal immigrants.
The poll found that when people were asked if they prefer a comprehensive bill to one that emphasizes border security and imposing criminal penalties on individuals already in the country illegally, the comprehensive approach was favored, 45-32. But when asked if they favor a comprehensive approach or a security-first bill that “under no circumstances” allows for citizenship, 43 percent said they prefer focusing on the border, and 33 percent picked overall reform.
Let the Dims run on the President’s approach to illegal immigration in the Fall. The GOP House Leadership may well be saving Republican majority control of the Congress by facing down the President.
Secure the Border first!
Captain Ed has No Amnesty, No Normalization, No Border Security
That strategy carries some risks, but mostly for the Senate, and that mostly for the moderates. The issue of border security has received high-profile attention, and if this session of Congress still produces nothing significant, the blame will fall on the upper chamber, especially the moderate and liberal Senators that insisted on linking border security to the larger issue of immigration. The House may well force the Senate to de-link the issues and come together on a straight border-security bill before the elections.
One fact is certain: this issue isn’t dead, even if immigration reform is on life support.
Allah has House GOP says immigration compromise is dead
Hastert says Sensenbrenner and some of the other committee chairmen are going to hold â€œfield hearingsâ€ this summer to gauge public opinion on the subject. Ostensibly. Actually, theyâ€™re going to use them to put immigration front and center before the midterms in hopes of stirring disaffected Republicans.
In some ways thatâ€™s savvy: immigration is already a top priority among voters, and turning the election into a referendum on the issue will act as a bit of a hedge if things go south in Iraq (depending upon how far south they go, natch). On the other hand, judging from the latest poll, the public is receptive to the Senate approach. If the GOP craps out and the left takes back the House, then we really are looking at amnesty, with or without the â€œcomprehensive immigration reformâ€ euphemism.
The GOP will hold their base with these moves and unless the economy tanks the Left will have a difficult time taking control of the House.
Score one for Hastert who is still pissed at Bush for having fired Peter Goss as CIA Director.
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A US Border Patrol officer patrols the fence at the US-Mexico border near Nogales, Arizona. The United States has begun to roll out the first of up to 6,000 National Guard troops on the Mexican border in a bid to reduce illegal immigration, the US Border Patrol chief said.
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