Dems reject House GOP’s piecemeal approach to immigration reform

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Majority Leader Eric Cantor and other Republican House members decided Wednesday to continue addressing immigration reform in a piece-by-piece approach in the House, following a two-hour meeting.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor and other Republican House members decided Wednesday to continue addressing immigration reform in a piece-by-piece approach in the House, following a two-hour meeting. (House Republican Conference)

House Republican leaders reaffirmed their opposition to the Senate-approved immigration reform bill after a closed-door meeting Wednesday and insisted on tackling the immigration reform issue piece by piece, an approach many House Democrats are rejecting.

“Today House Republicans affirmed that rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system,” GOP House leaders said in a joint statement.

They also referred to the Senate immigration bill, which passed last month with a 68-32 bipartisan vote, as “a single, massive, Obamacare-like bill.” Furthermore, they said President Barack Obama’s recent decision to delay portions of the Affordable Care Act raised concerns among Americans that the president’s administration “cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has been one of the most vocal supporters of a piecemeal approach to immigration reform. So far, he has led the committee in passing four separate immigration bills that address various issues within the U.S. immigration system.

House Democrats: We’re not pushing for piecemeal approach

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) briefly spoke to immigrant families who attended a pro-immigration reform rally Wednesday near the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) briefly spoke to immigrant families who attended a pro-immigration reform rally Wednesday near the U.S. Capitol. (VOXXI/Griselda Nevarez)

But House Democrats, including those who sit on the Judiciary Committee, are rejecting this piecemeal approach to reform the nation’s immigration system. They’ve made it clear that they’d rather take up one comprehensive immigration reform bill, like the Senate bill or the one that a bipartisan group of House members are on the verge of unveiling.

When asked what she thinks about the GOP’s push to take up the immigration issue piece by piece, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) told VOXXI:

“Democrats have already made their statement. I’m on the Judiciary Committee and all of us have voted against it. That is not something that the Hispanic Caucus or the Democratic Caucus, I believe, is pushing for, so it’s going to be a tough fight.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who is also on the Judiciary Committee and is a member of a bipartisan group working on its own immigration reform proposal, has also been a vocal opponent of a piecemeal approach.

Speaking Wednesday at an event hosted by United We Dream near the U.S. Capitol building, Gutierrez told nearly 500 Dreamers that he believes the 218 votes needed to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House do exist. The problem, he said, is that Boehner won’t allow the vote to occur. Boehner has made it clear that he won’t bring up any immigration bill to the House floor if it doesn’t have the support of the majority of House Republicans.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) is another Democrat who opposes addressing the immigration reform issue piece by piece. He told VOXXI he is in favor of addressing various immigration issues — including border security and a path to citizenship — all in one comprehensive bill.

“This needs to be done comprehensively,” he said. “The Senate has passed a bill that has bipartisan support, and [Boehner] ought to put that bill on the floor and let us vote on it.”

Advocates: We want comprehensive immigration reform, not piecemeal

Pro-immigration reform advocates rallied Wednesday in Washington as House Republicans met to discuss how the party plans to move forward on immigration reform.

Pro-immigration reform advocates rallied Wednesday in Washington as House Republicans met to discuss how the party plans to move forward on immigration reform. (VOXXI/Griselda Nevarez)

Many immigration reform advocates are also rejecting the GOP’s piecemeal approach, saying they prefer a comprehensive bill.

Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, told VOXXI he thinks having the House take a piecemeal approach “is totally crazy.”

“Nothing is going to pass with that approach, and we are not going to accept any legislation that doesn’t have a path to citizenship,” he said. “The best thing to do is to have Speaker Boehner talk to the [GOP] House members and explain to them how important it is for their own party and for this beautiful country to pass immigration reform.”

Torres’ organization was among a coalition of pro-immigration reform groups that organized a rally outside the U.S. Capitol building before and during the House Republicans’ closed-door meeting on Wednesday. The rally drew hundreds of undocumented immigrants and supporters, who were there calling on House members to pass an immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship by the beginning of August.

At another pro-immigration reform event hosted by United We Dream earlier that day, America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry told VOXXI that rather than taking up smaller immigration bills, he would like to see the House offer a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship sometime this month.

“If they try to do this piecemeal stuff, I think that’s probably a road to nowhere,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lorella Preali, director of advocacy and policy for United We Dream, said Dreamers and their families “will not stand for piecemeal or comprehensive legislation that falls short of citizenship for our 11 million brothers and sisters.”

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