{{show_title_date || "Congressman on Senate, House immigration bills: ‘We’re at least on the same planet’, 4/2/13, 10:19 AM ET"}}

GOP’s Mario Diaz-Balart calls on both parties to stop ‘politicizing’ immigration


Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart says the House bipartisan group working on immigration is very close to a deal, but stopped short of providing a firm timeline Tuesday on Jansing & Co.

“The only way we’re going to get this done is if it has some very strong bipartisan support,” he said. “We’re more concerned in the House to get it right than do it quickly…We’re probably farther ahead than they [the Senate] are but our goal is to get it right, to finalize something that is real, that is permanent and that, frankly, fixes what’s broken, which is in essence the entire immigration system.

Diaz-Balart says both the House and Senate groups are “on the same planet” when it comes to what needs to be in the comprehensive immigration reform bills, but expects “tough negotiations” to reconcile the House and Senate bills. He hopes eventually a conference committee will be able to bring both sides of Congress together.

Yesterday, Democratic Rep.  Steve Israel blamed Republicans for an inability to compromise to immigration.

“Only House Republicans could stop it [immigration] now,” he said on Jansing & Co. Monday. ”So far they have not shown the ability to compromise, they are inflexible, they are chaotic, they put politics ahead of solutions,” Israel said.

Rep. Diaz-Balart called that kind of talk a “shame.”

“It’s a shame that some people, and you’ve just heard it from his lips, are still trying to politicize this,” Diaz-Balart said. “This is an issue that has been used by both parties for election reasons. It’s worked well for Democrats, been political suicide for Republicans. But both parties have used this as a political issues.”

There is new pressure on lawmakers to come up with a deal.  The Washington Post reports evangelical groups are expanding a radio ad campaign in Texas, Florida, Colorado, and North Carolina to make the case for immigration reform and a path to citizenship.

The Senate’s “Gang of Eight” announced over the weekend they had a deal, although Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) cautioned in a statement that announcement was premature. Rubio also wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy asking him to thoroughly examine the proposal.

“I cannot urge strongly enough that such a discussion start with meaningful hearings,” Rubio wrote. “You have said that ‘delay for delay’s sake’ would be a mistake in this matter, I agree. But excessive haste in the pursuit of a lasting solution is perhaps even more dangerous to the goals many of us share.  We owe it to the American people to get immigration reform right this time.”

GOP's Mario Diaz-Balart calls on both parties to stop 'politicizing' immigration