Republican House members are insisting on a "step-by-step" approach on immigration in lieu of the comprehensive package passed by the Senate because they don't trust President Obama, a leading GOP lawmaker told Newsmax.
California Rep. Jeff Denham said the GOP is determined to stop the president using executive orders to tamper with an immigration overhaul – like he did with Obamacare.
"There are two major issues involved in the ruling out of any comprehensive immigration plan, including that passed by the Senate," said Denham, whose Central California district has a population that is 40 percent Latino.
"One is that we have a better border security plan, and that has to be implemented before we expand into other areas. The Senate bill bails on this."
The other major reason the Senate's immigration overhaul will never get through the House, Denham said, "is a lack of trust in this president. We have to make sure that any bills that become law cannot be subjected to any executive order by this president."
House Republicans will insist on strong measures in any immigration legislation to keep the administration from subsequently tampering with it, he said.
Denham emphasized that a major reason for House Republicans' distrust of the administration over possible tampering with immigration bills once they become law was the president's delaying of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act after it took effect.
"That's a big part of it," Denham said. "I would have supported delaying the employer mandate and the individual mandate as well. But the president delayed the employer mandate alone and did so by executive order, after Congress passed [Obamacare]. He operated outside the will of Congress and undermined the will of Congress."
Denham and other Republicans in the House believe that it will be much easier to ensure precautions against White House tampering with several different bills than a major Senate-style immigration package.
Denham denied that House Republicans are seeking to simply pass tough border security legislation and ignore all of the other immigration reforms.
"We have to deal with all aspects and it must be done in a couple of days — debate, amending, then an up-or-down vote and moving," said Denham. "This is the middle ground between what the Senate has done and the step-by-step approach: passing separate bills on needed reforms but doing it in an agreed-upon time period."
Denham himself has an additional bill on the issue that has yet to be dealt with by the Judiciary Committee. Known as the Enlist Act, it permits illegal immigrants who enlist in the armed forces to obtain citizenship while in uniform.
"We're a nation of immigrants and immigrants have gained citizenship in every war we've fought," said Denham, himself a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran in Desert Storm. "I served with a number of Filipinos and they were never penalized for not being citizens when they enlisted."
Denham, a former state senator, is a rancher and owner of a plastics company in California's Merced County. Last year, he was the only Republican in the House to sign on with 185 Democrats to support a measure that would permit people from other countries who are in the United States illegally to eventually obtain citizenship.
Critics of Denham suggested he took this position because of the growing Latino population in his district.
"I would say it has less to do with my political situation and more to do with my personal background," said the congressman, noting that his wife Sonia was a first-generation Latin American whose parents immigrated to the United States and became legal citizens.
"I'm also a conservative," he said. "And I believe that first and foremost, we must secure our borders. And I believe we can make economic gains with genuine immigration reform, such as a guest-worker program. But conservatives have to do it right."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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