After a historic vote to pass the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill in the Senate, the spotlight rests on the House of Representatives. VOXXI takes a look at what comes next for immigration reform in the House.
What are the chances of passing the Senate immigration bill in the House?
At the moment, chances are none.
When the Senate passed S.744, several House Republicans said the Senate immigration reform bill was “dead on arrival” in the House. They confirmed this on July 10, after they held a special meeting where they decided they would approach immigration reform in a “step-by-step” manner.
The most frequent complaints from conservatives in the House are that the Senate’s bill is weak on border security and it rewards undocumented immigrants by allowing them to become U.S. citizens. The House GOP also criticized the Senate’s bill because they said it was “massive” and rushed through.
House Democrats and pro-immigration reform advocates warned that if House Republicans don’t get behind efforts to pass immigration reform legislation, the GOP could be digging a deeper hole for themselves with Latino voters.
Has an immigration reform bill been introduced in the House?
The Gang of Seven
A single comprehensive immigration reform bill is being prepared by a bipartisan group of seven House members, and they are on the verge of introducing it.
The House members working on the bill include:
- Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)
- Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)
- Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)
- John Carter (R-Tex.)
- Sam Johnson (R-Tex)
- Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
- John Yarmuth (D-Ky.)
This bipartisan group originally consisted of eight House members, until Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) left the group last month when members couldn’t decide on how to handle the health care costs of undocumented immigrants. According to Gutierrez, the seven remaining legislators plan to move forward with this bill even though the House Republican Conference expressed their wish for a piecemeal approach.
The piecemeal approach
Although the Gang of Seven haven’t introduced their bill, Republicans in the House have gotten the ball rolling by introducing several bills to tackle different immigration reform issues.
Initially, the House Judiciary Committee approved the SAFE Act — Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act — on June 19, with a 20-15 party-line vote.
That bill would permit states to enact and enforce their own immigration laws, as well as allow local police officers to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law. It also includes an amendment that would make an unlawful presence in the U.S. a federal crime.
Most recently, the committee approved a bill to require employers to check the work eligibility of all future hires though the E-Verify system. It also approved a bill to create a new temporary agricultural guest worker program and another bill focused on giving out green cards and visas to high-skilled foreign workers.
How will the Gang of Seven’s immigration reform bill compare to the Senate’s?
Very little is known of what could be included in the House bipartisan group’s immigration reform bill, but it is likely that the bill will have a greater focus on border security than the Senate bill.
It could go as far as requiring certain border security measures to be in place before undocumented immigrants can begin the process toward gaining legal status. The House immigration reform bill is also likely to include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, just like the Senate bill. But many House Republicans — including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia — oppose that idea.
Originally published July 1. Last updated July 12.