Would Smaller Bills Bring Better Immigration Reform?

House Republicans could move on several smaller measures.


House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

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On Thursday, the Senate approved the "gang of eight's" immigration reform bill on a 68-to-32 vote, sending it to the Republican controlled House. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, remains steadfast that he will not bring up the Senate's bill, but will instead advance a House version of the legislation. Yesterday, he said in a statement: "Apparently, some haven't gotten the message ... The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes."

U.S. News' Susan Milligan suggested today that such a move is risky for the House GOP:

The House could simply refuse to take up the Senate bill, a strategy preferred by the House's hardcore conservatives. But doing so could be the final straw for a growing Latino electorate that is already extremely impatient with the Republican party as a whole. There are surely GOP lawmakers and candidates in denial over the changing demographics of the electorate, but party strategists understand the numbers.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

Comprehensive immigration reform in Congress has not been successful in recent years. The Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 both failed to become law. The last time Congress approved wholesale immigration reform was in 1986.

This new bill addresses four main issues: a possible pathway to citizenship for illegal residents, the future flow of immigrants into the U.S., foreign worker visas and border security. But some Republicans – including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlate, R-Va. – feel that breaking immigration reform into smaller pieces is the better way to accomplish reform, as CNN notes:

Goodlatte disagrees with the Senate Democrats' strategy to move one comprehensive bill, saying he prefers to move a series of discrete immigration measures through his committee.

Goodlatte has focused his attention on the border security and employer verification aspects of reform and told reporters he has major concerns with moving legislation that sets up a process eventually allowing those already in the U.S. illegally to become citizens.

What do you think? Should House Republicans break immigration reform into smaller bills? Take the poll and comment below.

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