Boehner, Cantor: Immigration Reform a Priority for 2014

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Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 05:41 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor want to overhaul the immigration system in 2014, discussing a rewrite among other priority topics with fellow Republican lawmakers in a closed meeting Wednesday.

Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon told The Wall Street Journal after the meeting that Boehner informed the lawmakers that "'this is an issue we have to deal with, and I continue to believe that.'"

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Republicans have long sought immigration change as a gradual process, not the sweeping "Gang of Eight" bipartisan bill passed by the Senate last year.

Conservative immigration critics, however, said addressing the issue this year would be a mistake when lawmakers should instead be concentrating on defeating Obamacare.

"It would be a colossal mistake for us to take up anything that would end up just changing the subject and getting it off Obamacare and onto something that splits the Republican Party," Republican Steve King of Iowa told The Journal.

Meanwhile, Louisiana Republican Rep. John Fleming said Republicans would feel comfortable tightening the U.S.-Mexico border but would likely resist anything else.

"There's going to be a lot of push-back because we have a president we can't trust," he said.

Meanwhile, Daniel Horowitz, policy director for the conservative Madison Project and a contributing editor for RedState.com, said in an op-ed piece for the site that the announcement was a "coordinated effort" by Boehner and Cantor to issue their call at the same time U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue was making his own call for amnesty.

"We're determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted," Donohue said in his 2014 State of American Business address, reports CNN.  "The chamber will pull out all the stops – through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics, and partnerships with unions, faith organization, law enforcement and other – to get it done."

Further, Donohue said, he disagrees with the belief that immigration reform cannot pass the House in 2014 because it's an important election year.

"We hope to turn that assumption on its ear," he said. "It's based on a simple theory: if you can't make them see the light, then at least make them feel some heat."

Horowitz asked why Republicans are in such a rush to pass immigration reform when they "have so little political power."

"These are the same folks who suggest that we can't even block bad things with control of just the U.S. House, even though the House is vested with control over the purse strings," he said.

"Why would they think we can pass new immigration legislation built on conservative principles if it requires the cooperation of all three branches?" he said. "Why in the world would Republicans reward Obama's malevolence and disregard for our immigration laws by granting him his biggest second-term agenda item? The fix is already in."

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