Politics

GOP Leaders Revive Democrats’ Amnesty Hopes

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Democratic leaders are welcoming efforts by the House GOP leadership to amend a minor 2008 immigration bill, because it could revive the now-dormant, business-backed comprehensive immigration reform push.

The House’s proposed change to the 2008 bill is “an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

GOP leaders announced Tuesday they’re scheduling a Thursday vote on changes to the existing 2008 immigration law. For more than a month, President Barack Obama has blamed the law for his decision to allow more than 100,000 Central American migrants into the United States.

The GOP’s base, and many voters, want to block the Central American inflow.

But conservatives and GOP-affiliated groups are rallying their supporters to block any changes to the 2008 bill.

That’s because any House vote to change the 2008 immigration law would allow House Speaker John Boehner to schedule a joint House and Senate conference where Democratic and GOP legislators could expand the slight changes to the 2008 law into a massive closed-door rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws.

Conservative groups and legislators worry an expanded conference will be used to draft an amnesty bill for at least 11 million illegals, and also to increase the current inflow of roughly two million immigrants and guest workers per year.

“A vote for this [amendment on July 31] is a vote for a conference,” warned one GOP Hill aide.

Once the conference is made possible by a House vote, then Boehner and the top leadership will instantly face enormous public and private pressure from Democratic legislators, President Obama and some Republicans, plus the nation’s business, media, agricultural and university sectors, plus Wall Street donors, to pass a big immigration rewrite.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Boehner said he will not advance the Senate immigration bill “in any fashion.”

“Nor will we accept any attempt to add any other comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act, to the House’s targeted legislation, which is meant to fix the actual problems causing the border crisis,” Boehner said.

But in June 2013, the huge Democratic-led coalition persuaded the Senate to approve a comprehensive immigration reform that gave an amnesty to at least 11 million illegals, doubled the current inflow of guest workers and immigrants to roughly 4 million per year. That’s roughly equal to the number of Americans who turn 18 each year.

The Senate bill also loosened border protections, weakened penalties for employers who hired illegals, and made it easier for deported illegals to re-enter the United States with their families. The bill would also have cut wages and shifted more of the nation’s annual income towards investors and away from workers, according to a June 2013 report by the Congressional Budget Office.

Those measures were so unpopular among voters, however, that Boehner ignored the Senate bill, dooming its chances of passage.

The current effort to stop any change to the 2008 bill has drawn support from a wide array of conservative groups, and by leading GOP conservatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sen. Rand Paul, plus numerous House Republicans, such as Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks.

“Until this administration demonstrates a sincere effort to uphold existing law and to stop issuing administrative amnesties, Congress should withhold any further money or legislation,” said a letter sent by the groups to Boehner on Saturday.