Monday, July 02, 2007

House GOP Turns Tables on Immigration

The House Republicans are preparing to do the politically sensible thing, and push an 'enforcement only' immigration bill. If the reaction to the Senate comprehensive debate is any indication, this ought to help pull Republican voters together, while attracting support from at least some independents:

A draft of the Smith-King legislation includes an increase in the size of the Border Patrol and would boost the number of Customs and Border Protection Officers at U.S. ports by 1,000 people over four years. It would also expedite the removal of individuals in the country illegally, make English the national language and refine the system that verifies the identities of those applying for employment in the United States.

Some House Democrats, meanwhile, want to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.

Following the Senate vote last week, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, said in a release that Democratic leaders need to “improve the current unsatisfactory system.”

One of the reasons that the Senate went first on comprehensive immigration reform is that the House has too many Democrats in swing districts with tough races. None of them wanted to take a vote for amnesty, and some expressed clear preference for an enforcement only approach. And with 202 Republicans in the House, they only need 16 Democrats to make things very difficult on House Democrats. The move would force them to choose between labor and Hispanic interests, and moderates.

Update: It's been pointed out that 'labor' is by no means a slam-dunk constituency in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. True enough. Mickey has done a good job of explaining why. But while there definitely are some on the Left (and Right) whose primary concern is depressed wages, there are plenty who view CIR as an opportunity to expand union membership.

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