Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Boehner's Election-Year Immigration Stategy

From the National Jounal:

John Boehner is planning to unveil a set of Republican principles for immigration reform before President Obama's State of the Union address, aiming to show the GOP is not hostile to legislation that might win them Hispanic voters.

According to House leadership and immigration-policy aides, the principles will be broad, nebulous even, and heavily focused on Republicans' favorite immigration issue—border security. It will not include any concrete proposal, they said. Indeed, the wording is likely to be intentionally squishy, giving lawmakers lots of room to maneuver.

"We can win in 2014 without resolving it. We can't win in 2016 without resolving it," said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn.
But no matter what happens, Boehner will come out a winner just for the effort. If it flops over hardliners' objections to anything that approaches amnesty for illegal immigrants, Boehner and Republican campaign leaders looking for cash can still tell the business community they tried. What's more, it could lay the groundwork for a Republican overture to Hispanic voters, a group everyone sees as critical to winning in 2016.

"We can win in 2014 without resolving it. We can't win in 2016 without resolving it," said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and immigration-law expert Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, are writing the principles with Boehner.

They intend to start vetting them with House Republicans, likely next week after GOP leaders hold a meeting to prep for their conference's Jan. 29 retreat. By the time the principles go public (or are leaked), leadership hopes to have more than half of the conference on board.

Then, according to aides, the plan is to gauge public reaction. If House members are deluged with nothing but hate mail from their districts, Republicans might decide to do nothing but emphasize border security, perhaps even voting on the border bill produced last year. That's at least until 2014 primary-election filings are over. (The biggest threat to Republicans on immigration is in the primaries anyway, strategists say. No one will lose in the general election because they are too soft on immigration.)

But if leadership's principles receive some positive feedback, Goodlatte, Cantor, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., could advance legislation they have discussed for the last several months. As yet, there is no legislative language drafted, however. Cantor and Goodlatte have talked about a path to citizenship for undocumented "dreamers" who came to this country as kids. Even Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., is discussing some sort of "Dream Act." Issa is mulling broader legalization for other unauthorized immigrants. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., is trying to gather support for a legalization plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to get green cards through normal channels, such as children or spouses. Read more....


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