Photo: Rep. Luis Gutierrez
The House Democrats continue their efforts to demand a vote on immigration reform and House Republicans continued to block action while promising to one day address the issue. The disconnect between Republicans’ rhetorical support for immigration reform and their actual legislative record is vast, and given the three month deadline for legislative action put forward yesterday by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a problem of heightened urgency for the GOP.
To demonstrate this disconnect, America’s Voice issued a scorecard that cuts through the talking points and summarizes the actions and voting record of select House Republicans, including many who call themselves immigration reform supporters. We present the immigration voting record of 12 House Republicans who are facing potentially competitive 2014 races, per Sabato Crystal Ball House ratings, and who have to answer to a Latino population constituency of at least 5% in their districts.
As the scorecard shows, the following 12 House Republicans have work to do to demonstrate to the Latino voters in their district that they deliver, and don’t just talk a good game, on immigration reform.
Our scorecard relies on five votes taken by the full House this Congress: (a) the June 2013 vote on the amendment by anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to defund the DACA program and subject DREAMers to deportation; (b) and (c), their votes on the ENFORCE Act and the Faithful Execution of the Law Act (HR 3973) in March 2014, both of which sought to strip the President’s executive authority powers to deliver targeted relief from deportation to DREAMers and military families; (d) the March 2014 vote on the “previous question” by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) to try to hold a vote on HR 15; and (e) their decision to support or oppose the discharge petition that would force a vote on HR 15 by the full House.
The proceedings in the House Budget Committee are a good example of what the scorecard highlights and what we’ve seen too frequently from House Republicans this Congress – rhetorical support for reform and legislative action to the contrary. At a legislative hearing on the Republican budget proposal yesterday, Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) offered the immigration reform bill H.R. 15 as an amendment to the Republican budget. The vote broke down along party lines, with all 21 Republican members of the committee blocking the advance of the immigration bill and all Democrats supporting. During the debate the supposed pro-reform Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, according to Elise Foley at Huffington Post, “that immigration reform should be done, and that it should address the undocumented population.” In Foley’s characterization, Rep. Ryan also said, “since the Homeland Security Committee and the Judiciary Committee are working on immigration reform bills, it’s not the place of the Budget Committee to get involved.” Fellow House Republican Budget Committee member Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) similarly noted, per Suzanne Gamboa of NBC News, that that two committee chairman are “well on their way” on drafting immigration bills and stating, “unfortunately they aren’t going to be coming up as quickly as some people would like.”
These are the same vague “working on it” promises we’ve been hearing from House Republicans throughout this Congress. Yet somehow, the promised legislation never sees the light of day and only seems to exist in talking points. Instead, House leadership has repeatedly allowed time for the aforementioned anti-immigrant votes.
Enough is enough and yesterday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez told House Republicans that time is running out for them to turn their promises into real action on immigration reform. Rep. Gutierrez declared a three-month deadline for legislative action after which, he predicted, President Obama will take bold executive action to keep immigrant families together and Republicans, including many of the targeted House Republicans featured on the scorecard, will suffer political consequences. See video of the Rep. Gutierrez floor speech here.