Today the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) met with Speaker John Boehner to discuss immigration reform. On Tuesday, Speaker Boehner was publicly saying that he would not bring an immigration bill forward that did not have the support of a majority of House Republicans. Boehner also criticized the Senate immigration for being “weak” on border security. And on Tuesday in the House Judiciary Committee, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (SAFE Act) was passed along party lines, which would make it a federal crime to be in the U.S. without papers and effectively repeal the DREAM Act. Given those statements, the CHC was looking for some clarity or indication that immigration would be moving forward.
One item that the CHC had in its pocket was the Congressional Budget Office report that was released yesterday showing that the Senate immigration bill would reduce the deficit by $197 billion over 10 years. Given Speaker Boehner’s expressed concern about the deficit, this was something that the CHC could point in its favor.
CHC Chair Ruben Hinojosa released this statement following the meeting with Speaker Boehner:
“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus had a constructive meeting with Speaker John Boehner this afternoon to discuss the importance of passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House. The Members reiterated the CHC’s Principles on Immigration Reform and the need to ensure that any House bill include a pathway to earned citizenship that is tough but fair.
Members noted the importance of immigration reform to deficit reduction and expressed a desire to work with the Speaker and Republican Leadership to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill as soon as possible.
The CHC committed to work with the Speaker, and all Members of the House, to find a solution to our nation’s broken immigration system.”
Polls show that a majority of Americans support immigration reform. Even in red states like Arizona, 65% of residents support the Senate immigration plan. Similarly, in the Lone Star state, a majority of Texans support the Senate gang of eight immigration bill. So Speaker Boehner finds himself in a bind trying to balance the desires of his conservative colleagues with the preferences of the American public and a growing Latino electorate that the Republicans are trying to appeal to. Boehner has indicated that he will poll his caucus when it meets in early July; by then, the Senate bill may have already passed and could influence how he proceeds.