GOP faces intense pressure from the corporate world.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Despite the fact that the passage of immigration reform in 2014 looks increasingly unlikely with each passing day, House Speaker John Boehner has reiterated that he wants to get the legislation passed as soon as possible.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Boehner told a group of key supporters and donors that he is “hellbent on getting [immigration reform] done this year.” The comment happened at an event that took place in Las Vegas last month, with Boehner further specifying that he envisions getting the legislation passed this coming summer. A Boehner aide later confirmed to WSJ that Boehner did, indeed, make those comments, but clarified that nothing would move forward until Republicans felt they had a trustworthy partner in President Barack Obama.
Boehner isn’t the only Republican who’s making moves with regards to immigration reform. California Rep. Jeff Denham is working on a bill that would allow illegal aliens to become citizens if they serve in the US military, and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart – who has been on the front lines of the immigration movement for several months – is reportedly working on legislation to allow undocumented workers to apply for legalization through existing channels. Boehner apparently wants this bill ready for a vote no later than July.
Boehner’s comment is the latest overture from the GOP, which suddenly flip-flopped from opposing immigration reform vehemently to welcoming the legislation, albeit with a handful of significant caveats, in a matter of months. The GOP stonewalled the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill in the House of Representatives last summer after it flew through passage in the Senate, and continued to hamstring the bill’s movement because, mainly, they opposed the Democrats’ view of allowing undocumented workers a path to citizenship.
Earlier this year, however, a GOP retreat in Maryland ended with many high-level party leaders saying they were open to passing the legislation if certain changes were made, such as the path to citizenship and other such tenets. The doors seemed to be open for immigration reform being passed, but movement subsequently stalled, and looked unlikely to move forward as Washington turned its attention to the 2014 midterm races.
That’s all to say that despite Boehner’s words, there is a huge gulf between talk and action from the GOP side. And so far, the focus of nearly everything with the immigration bill has been on undocumented immigrants, not those who come legally via H-1B visas and other such documentation. No initiatives have been proposed to amend those parts of the Gang of Eight bill, meaning that companies who hire large amounts of foreign workers will have to pay thousands of dollars in fees for visa petitions if the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill passes.
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