Tick Tock: Even Amnesty Supporters Say Time Has Run Out

Published on November 12th, 2013

Here’s the latest good news-bad news from Capitol Hill on the never-ending speculation about comprehensive immigration reform – will it, or won’t it happen.

The good news: Florida House Republican and amnesty stalwart Mario Diaz-Balart predicted this week that there will be no 2013 immigration vote. Looking ahead to 2014, Diaz-Balart thinks that the House will have little time to force a vote. The window of opportunity, Diaz-Balart anticipates, may be limited to the first quarter. After that, the primary season will be in full swing, a period when incumbents are unwilling to engage in controversial immigration haggling.

Said Diaz-Balart:

I’m hopeful that we can get to it early next year. But I am keenly aware that next year, you start running into the election cycle. If we cannot get it done by early next year, then it’s clearly dead. It flatlines.

[“Immigration Reform is Dead for the Year, Says Top GOP Reformer,”
by Greg Sergent, The Washington Post, November 7, 2013]

The fact that incumbents dodge immigration when their jobs are on the line says a lot. If amnesty is as good for the economy and for Americans as politicians claim, then they should be eager to campaign on the issue instead of running away from it.

Assuming Diaz-Balart is right, and I think he is since only 16 days remain on the 2013 legislative calendar, amnesty may finally be dead for the year. The ten-month, nonstop FAXing, emailing and calling effort by members of CAPS has yielded the best possible result – no vote.

The bad news: we may have to resume our fight in early 2014. But time is our ally; each day that passes without a vote represents a victory. The congressional deficit ceiling battle resumes on February 7 and will easily trump immigration as the most important issue. Other contentious distractions also loom, namely the Affordable Care Act, the controversy about which is not going away anytime soon.

Part of the blame for House inaction can be put on the advocacy groups’ refusal to give an inch. For the last several months, House leadership, and specifically Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has been quietly drafting legislation known as the Kids Act, a watered down version of the DREAM Act. The House appears willing if not eager to create a path to citizenship for children allegedly brought to the United States at a young age. But the GOP balks at advocates’ insistence that once the kids obtain citizenship they can sponsor their illegal immigrant parents. For many House Republicans, that provision is a non-starter. [“Parents Sponsorship Stalls Kids Act,” by Fawn Johnson, National Journal, November 3, 2013]

At this very late stage, pro-amnesty legislators and lobbyists might want to consider the old but true adage and apply it to comprehensive immigration reform: half a loaf is better than none.

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