Tags: Immigration | Rand Paul | midterms | immigration | illegals | Senate

GOP Control of Senate May Open Way to Immigration Reform

By    |   Tuesday, 21 October 2014 12:45 PM

In one of the races that could decide who controls the Senate, Kentucky Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes is adopting an anti-immigration stance, even drawing the ire of national immigration reform groups with an ad touting the fact she has "never supported amnesty or benefits for illegal immigrants and I never will," reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

But if Grimes loses and Republicans gain the majority in the Senate, some believe the odds of passing immigration reform will improve.

"I actually think it’s more likely, if we take the Senate, that we will have immigration reform. We will be able to do it on a step-by-step approach, like most Republicans have been asking to do and I think the American people want," GOP Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho tells Buzzfeed.

Other Republicans believe there would be more cooperation between the House and the Senate if Republicans control both chambers.

"I think there would certainly be greater trust between the House and Senate in agreeing on something. This is an American issue. So I expect this party to come together on it. And I'm going to continue driving it," California Rep. Jeff Denham, a supporter of a path to citizenship, told The Hill in September.

While chances may improve, significant challenges remain, given the contentious nature of the issue even among Republicans.

For example, 42 percent of Republicans expressed opposition to any plan that offers a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, compared with 45 percent who support it, according to a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll.

A September Pew Research Center survey found 56 percent of Republicans do not feel their congressional representatives are doing a good job reflecting their views on immigration reform.

The roots of their disapproval, however, vary.

Of those who say the party is not handling the issue of immigration well, 33 percent say it is because the party is "too willing to allow immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to gain legal status," while 18 percent feel the GOP has not gone far enough to provide an opportunity for them to gain legal status, Pew noted.

While immigration reform measures have received a warmer reception in the Senate, if House Speaker John Boehner opts not to seek the leader's post in the next Congress that could change.

One of the leading successors is Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who supports allowing more H-1B visas for high-tech workers and creating a "vibrant guest-worker program" for low-skilled workers, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Hensarling, a committed free-market conservative, tells the Journal that he does not agree with those who contend legal immigrants are taking jobs from Americans, which he recognizes puts him at odds with fellow Republicans.

"This focus on immigration’s economic benefits is consistent with his free-market principles, though it puts him at odds with the drift of many Republicans who are falling for the fallacy that there are a finite number of jobs in the country and every immigrant robs a job from someone already here," notes Journal reporter James Freeman, who conducted the interview with Hensarling.

Another potential obstacle would be placed in front of reform advocates if President Barack Obama decides to take executive action on immigration.

"White House officials have been talking about granting a more sweeping amnesty after the next elections. Unilateral action would deeply anger even those Republicans who favor the bill, and enrage those who oppose it. Republicans are going to be even less eager to work with the administration on immigration afterward," writes conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru in The Fresno Bee.

Although Obama said he would delay any executive action until after the election, Breitbart News reports the administration has started making preparations to issue work authorization permits to millions of illegal immigrants.

Lastly, the battle among Republican presidential candidates, namely Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, could impact any chances of passage.

"I think also we’ll pass immigration reform. I think that’s one of the things that’s going to be huge in 2016: Republicans will pass immigration reform, where Democrats never could because of their intransigence, because they wanted everything or nothing," Paul recently told Politico.

While Paul is more open to so-called amnesty measures and reaching out to minorities, Cruz is adamantly opposed to a pathway to citizenship.

The original article misstated Rep. Hensarling's position on the impact of immigration on the American workforce. The congressman was discussing legal, not illegal, immigration with The Wall Street Journal. He fully supports strict enforcement of the nation's borders and the rule of law.

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Immigration reform may have a better chance of passing Congress if Republicans take control of the Senate, some GOP lawmakers and others are saying.
midterms, immigration, illegals, Senate, GOP
Tuesday, 21 October 2014 12:45 PM
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