Immigration Reform Collapsing in the House

Partisanship puts immigration reform on life support in the House of Representatives.


"Republicans need to decide if they want to play politics to energize their base or solve problems to help their country," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said of the House’s faltering immigration plan.

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The prospects for immigration reform fell drastically Friday when two key members of the House's bipartisan working group dropped out of the final stages of negotiations.

Two Texas Republican Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson released a joint statement Friday afternoon explaining that they simply couldn't work to fix a broken immigration system when they don't trust the Obama Adminstration's tactics.

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The congressmen had been working within the House's seven-person immigration group for four years, but said politics had simply gotten in the way of their efforts to secure the border and reform the country's visa programs.

"After years of hard work and countless meetings, we have reached a tipping point and can no longer continue working on a broad approach to immigration," Johnson and Carter said in their statement. "The problem is politics. Instead of doing what is right for America, President Obama time and again has unilaterally disregarded the U.S. Constitution, the letter of the law and bypassed the Congress."

The Republican pair said that they are concerned the Obama administration will not enforce any law, even those passed by a bipartisan group in the House.

"If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior, we know that any measure, depending on the president's enforcement will not be faithfully executed," they said. "The American people do not trust the President to enforce laws, and we don't either."

The GOP exodus from the group marks the further deterioration of bipartisanship in the House of Representatives, a place where the Republican majority voted this week to cut $40 billion from the country's food stamp program and defund the president's health care law using a spending bill.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., another member of the group, expressed his disappointment, and blamed GOP leaders for the group's demise.

"It is clear the bipartisan group's work was not being embraced by Republican Leaders, so this allows us to put the focus squarely on Speaker (John) Boehner and his lieutenants to decide if they are serious about reform and if so, to do something more than talk," Gutierrez said in a statement. "Republicans need to decide if they want to play politics to energize their base or solve problems to help their country."

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Republicans have passed a few smaller border security bills inthe House Judiciary Committee, but a comprehensive reform package is still incomplete.

There is still one Republican, however, who has affirmed his commitment to continue to work with the bipartisan working group.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said he isn't ready to give up on the group.

"I'm continuing to find other avenues that will ultimately lead to a solution that the American people demand," Diaz-Balart said. "This great nation doesn't just need a solution to its broken immigration system. It deserves one."

Meanwhile, Democrats and immigration advocacy groups are continuing to rally Congress for solutions. There are more than 90 protests planned in cities across the country in the next two weeks.

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