Politics
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) (R), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) speak about immigration during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 25, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) (R), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) speak about immigration during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 25, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)  

GOP leader reveals strategy for immigration bill push

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The distrust is boosted by the president’s unilateral change to the 2010 Obamacare law, Goodlatte said. GOP legislators see “a president who steps in and says, ‘You know what? That didn’t quite work out the way I wanted so I’m gonna change this. Or I’m gonna change that.’ But he doesn’t have the authority,” Goodlatte said.

One fix would be legislative language granting greater enforcement authority to the states, he said. ”That’s why we think there needs to be, for example, involvement by the states and local governments, not just the federal government, in dealing with the issue,” he said.

The deal could delay some benefits to the 12 million illegal immigrants — such as “legal status” — until the government has established some system that lets companies determine if a proposed hire is a citizen or a residents or a legal guest worker, he said.

“We can say the legal status is not provided until things like employment verification — electronic employment verification or entry/exit visa programs are up and operating effectively,” he said.

Goodlatte should get some credit for his emphasis on boosting security inside the country, not just at the border, said Roy Beck, the founder of NumbersUSA, a group that pushes for low immigration levels. He is also right to be skeptical of presidents’ willingness to enforce laws, said Beck.

Goodlatte, however, also endorsed an amnesty and more foreign workers, said Beck. “He didn’t show any concern for American workers and the reason you have immigration laws is to protect workers and the unemployed,” Beck said.

Goodlatte is under intense pressure from House Speaker John Boehner who is trying to pass an amnesty-and-guest-worker bill, so “we don’t know where the real Bob Goodlatte is,” Beck said.

In his TV interview, Goodlatte didn’t use the word “amnesty.” The word spikes public opposition to the planned deal, according to focus groups run by consultants such as Frank Luntz.

Instead, Goodlatte described the proposed amnesty as “an agreement that there’s going to be a legal status for people who are already here.”

Current political polls show the GOP’s base is eager to vote in the midterm elections, and swing voters are backing the GOP.

Democrats, however, plan to regain support from voters by arguing that the GOP is unfair to American workers, and by pushing for a raised $10.10 minimum wage. Obama is also claiming that GOP policies have expanded the wealth gap between rich and poor since 2000. Many voters and journalists are eager to believe that claim, partly because of the GOP’s image as friendly to big business.

However, immigration reformers say that large-scale immigration is widening the wealth gap. The gap widened by only 2.4 points in the 36 states with the lowest rate of immigration, but grew by by 4.2 points in the 15 states with the highest levels of immigration, from 2000 to 2010, according to an April 2013 report by FAIR.

However, Goodlatte indicated that the GOP leadership is going to push the guest-worker and amnesty plan.

“We’re working on it,” Goodlatte said.

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