House Republicans are continue to be a roadblock for immigration reform, despite efforts in the Senate and from President Barack Obama, according to University of Texas at Austin Government Professor and immigration policy expert Terri Givens.
“I definitely think he’s going to propose it because right now it’s clear that Obama is concerned about his legacy, as well as keeping promises,” Givens told us, noting the importance of keeping promises made in 2008 to Latino voters.
The president is likely to work through the Senate to propose legislation, which might even result in something being passed by the summer — but then the problems would start she said. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has not had much control over the House, thus, a bipartisan effort there is unlikely, she said.
“I think that it’s more likely that they are going to use the fact that it passed in the Senate as a wedge issue, against a lot of House Republicans in the 2014 election. I think that’s why you’re seeing folks like Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida trying to get ahead of the issue,” Givens said.
Although Republicans like Florida Senator Marco Rubio and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and perhaps even John McCain, will likely be involved in the immigration reform efforts, it’s unlikely that House Republicans under the leadership of John Boehner will support them, Givens told Politic365.
Thus, it looks like we won’t see any immigration reform until 2014, she said.
“Unfortunately the timeline is probably going to be more likely close to 2014, but I think there is a chance that, for some pieces of the legislation like the DREAM Act, could possibly get through before 2014,” Givens said.
The largest number of Latino members of Congress are currently serving, but most of them are freshmen, thus, although they will likely be involved in immigration reform efforts, they are not as influential as Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez, for example. Other potential players may include ex-immigration reformer Arizona Senator John McCain, as well as New York Senator Charles Schumer.
Piecemeal legislation, that’s not comprehensive immigration reform, is a much easier target, Givens said. Skilled immigration reform, for tech workers for example, as well as the DREAM Act are likely to be appealing to enough folks to get legislation passed, she added. In that case, about 800,000 people could benefit (based on deferred action estimates), but when you include family, spouses and children of undocumented immigrants, the effects of a DREAM Act could be huge, she explained.
Specifically, cementing Latino voters as a reliable Democratic constituency, similar to what happened with civil rights legislation and black voters in the 1960s.
“If you look at the Democratic Party in the 1960s and how it shifted to being the part of black voters because of civil rights legislation, I think you might see the same thing happen with immigration reform,” Givens said. “We’ll have to see how it plays out.”