U.S. Senators are now working their way through an 844-page bill on immigration reform that was crafted by a bipartisan group known as the "Gang of Eight." Meanwhile, lawmakers in the House have revealed little about their plans for immigration reform. But the latest comments from one local congressman may give some insight into how the debate will play out in the coming months. David Hawkings, political columnist at Hawkings Here for Roll Call talks about the latest in the reform.
Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte told reporters that the House would take a cautious approach to immigration reform. On what his role would be: "He is the chairman to the House Judiciary Committee — new to the House this year, new to the chairmanship — he's an immigration lawyer. He is essentially positioning himself here as trying to lead the group that is not for a more comprehensive sort of bill that the "Gang of Eight" in the Senate is talking about. The main issue here remains to pass the citizenship. Mr. Goodlatte, who was an immigration attorney before he came to elected politics, is opposed to getting illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. The "Gang of Eight" is in favor of it. There's another "Gang od Eight," believe it or not... they're in the House, and they've been negotiating on a more broader bill. Mr. Goodlatte seems to be positioning himself as the leader of the slow things down, more narrow, more conservative approach."
On whether Goodlatte's take on immigration reform has support among other House Republicans: "That's the $64,000 question for the advocates of this, and for the leadership. The assumption has been — and maybe it's a little too simplistic — that after the election, the Republicans had support from less than 3 out of every 10 Latino voters, that the Republicans in both the Senate and the House would be willing to change their minds about this sort of broad immigration overhaul, in order to try and win over some of that Latino vote."
On whether Goodlatte will ultimately have the final word on any immigration plan that comes out of the House: "It certainly seems like they're going to work around each other. Unlike the "Gang of Eight" in the Senate, which has actually introduced a bill — there's real legislation, they've come to a real deal. The "Gang of Eight" in the House has been talking for at least as long as the guys in the Senate, and they have not come up with a bill. It is assumed that whatever they come up with would include a path to citizenship."
On whether an immigration bill will reach President Obama's desk by summer: "It all kind of depends on the political timeline and whether Mr. Goodlatte finds out in his talks to other Republicans that he doesn't have the votes for his approach. With the eight senators... the fact that they've come together on a bill, would seem to suggest that an immigration bill can get through the Senate."
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