With Congress on recess for the holiday season and only 8 days left on the Congressional calendar when they return, the House and Senate don’t have much time to get anything done– certainly not a resurfaced hot button issue like immigration.
A new report released by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 63% of Americans support citizenship for the roughly 11.7 million individuals living in the United States illegally. 73% of Democrats, 60% of Republicans, and 57% of Independents support a legislative pathway to citizenship, provided certain requirements are met.
How a legislative fix to the country’s immigration system is passed, however, is currently at issue.
When speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council this month, President Obama said he would be open to accepting a piecemeal approach to reforming the country’s immigration laws. “If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like” the President ceded.
The U.S. Senate has already passed a bipartisan immigration reform package after heavy negotiations earlier this year. And advocates for reform are waiting for the House GOP to take up the Senate bill or offer their own legislation. Neither have come to fruition.
At present, the greatest obstacle preventing a solution from passing is an increasingly dysfunctional Republican party with contradictory views.
Speaker John Boehner is at the forefront of the undecided. When cornered by two immigration activists in a diner earlier this month, he said the timing isn’t right and that a smaller-scale, piecemeal approach is best. Yet, when asked by reporters a few days ago about the status of the immigration bill he said, “We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.”
Speaker Boehner is not the only prominent Republican with ever-fluctuating stances on the issue.
An often mentioned 2016 presidential contender, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush wrote an op-ed in the WSJ earlier this year calling for the House of Representatives to pass the Senate’s reform package. He is currently on tour touting his newest book, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” in which Bush and co-author Clint Bolick deny a path to citizenship. The former Florida governor has since shifted his position, telling MSNBC’s Morning Joe in March that he would support a path to citizenship “if it didn’t create an incentive for people to come illegally at the expense of coming legally.”
In April of this year, Marco Rubio defended his stance for a comprehensive immigration package in media appearances across the country. After serving as an architect of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill, Rubio is now calling for a piecemeal approach as conservative winds push against a broader immigration package. Many have seen this as a way for Rubio to shore up the conservative base should he decide to run for president in 2016.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has told the GOP they need to “fix the broken system” that is immigration. However, he has withheld his own ideas on how to get it accomplished and refused to explain his position. Christie will face his own dilemma soon, as a bill to provide in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants in New Jersey works its way through the state’s legislature.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has staunchly opposed a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and has remained steadfast in doing so. His opposition to a deal has heavily influenced conservative circles on The Hill.
So what do you think: will the House take up the immigration bill before the end of the year?