Immigration

Conservatives: No Immigration Vote Without GOP Majority

A number of House conservatives said last week that House Majority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio) should not attempt to win passage of a final immigration reform bill if it includes a guest-worker plan like the one proposed in the Senate and if it does not enjoy the support of a majority of House Republicans. I asked congressmen about the legislation last week as the Senate was working on a compromise.


Do you think the majority leader should move to the floor a guest-worker bill from the Senate if it doesn’t have support from the majority of House Republicans?

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R.-W.Va.): What I want is a border security, a border protection bill first. That’s what I voted on. That’s what I hoped would come out of conference.

Do you feel like border security is being held hostage for guest-worker?

Capito: I think there are always trade-offs and always negotiating, and obviously, that’s one of the points people are going to hold the bill up for. But I tell you, my constituents are engaged and want this immigration issue addressed and they want it addressed with enforcement coming out in a bold way. So, we’ll just keep pushing forward with it.


Should the majority leader try to pass a guest-worker bill from the Senate if it doesn’t have support from the majority of House Republicans?

Rep. Tom Feeney (R.-Fla.): No. I would be terribly concerned if we take up the Senate bill, and I would encourage the majority leader that until we have a bill that the majority of House Republicans can support that we not take up any of the Senate proposals.

Do you think the White House and the Senate are holding border security hostage to get guest-worker?

Feeney: I don’t know if would call it holding it hostage. The legislative process is always a series of compromises, but having said that, Republicans need to convince the American citizenry that we are going to secure the borders. Then we can talk about allowing temporary workers coming in on a temporary basis to do the jobs that American wouldn’t. Secure the border first because we have 11 million people that we don’t know who they are and what they are doing. And a lot of them are not Mexicans, which is very troubling. They may be terrorists. There may be security risks. And it is a huge burden on America’s schools and hospitals. Secure the border first, and then talk about how you do an effective temporary worker program.

It’s been suggested by some that the House shouldn’t even appoint conferees should guest-worker pass. Are you in that camp?

Feeney: I don’t know whether we should or shouldn’t appoint conferees. I’ll trust our leadership on that, but on the question of whether our leader should ever take up a Senate bill that has some sort of track towards citizenry or a huge guest-worker/amnesty-type program, I’m totally opposed to that.


Should the majority leader move a Senate guest-worker bill that doesn’t have the support of a majority of House Republicans?

Phil Gingrey (R.-Ga.): No, I don’t think so.


Should the majority leader attempt to move a guest-worker bill from the Senate that doesn’t have the majority support of House Republicans?

Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R.-Ariz.): As I said last week, it would be my hope that the Speaker would not even name any conferees to meet with the Senate if the Senate passes a guest-worker/amnesty plan. So, that’s my position. I don’t even think we should move to take it up in any way, shape, fashion or form.

Do you think the White House and the Senate are attempting to hold border security hostage to get guest-worker?

Hayworth: I wrote a column, you may remember, I wrote a piece in the Washington Times …

You wrote the book, too.

Hayworth: I wrote the book [Whatever It Takes], too! But this [column] on the eve of the book’s being released was about the political calculus involved in attempting to shove a guest-worker/amnesty bill down the throats of an unwilling public, and it looks positively prescient if you look at it today. You can quote from it freely! And the book, come to think of it!


Do you think the majority leader should move a Senate bill on immigration that contains guest-worker if it doesn’t have the majority of House Republicans?

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R.-Tex.): Well, you don’t ask easy questions do you? I’m of the opinion that a guest-worker program, temporary, not granting amnesty, not granting citizenship, is part of our border security solution.

How do you define amnesty? Some people define it differently.

Hensarling: Different people define amnesty differently. I think that, ultimately, for one to be part of a guest-worker program, they’ve got to come back to their country of origin and come back here legally. Listen, I have two small children — a four-year-old and one two-and-a-half years. If I was born poor in Latin American and couldn’t feed them, I don’t know how you’d keep me from coming across the border to feed them. That’s the human dynamic. I want those millions of people to come through the front door of America in the light of day, as opposed to sneaking through the back door in the dark of night, so our border security folks can focus on hopefully tens of people trying to cross illegally each night instead of thousands of people. So, I believe that the guest-worker program is part of the solution. Now, if you are asking me about timing of it, I think it’s part of the solution, but I’m not passionate that it has to come before the horse, after the horse where you put the cart. So, the best I can directly answer your question is: "Should he do it?" I don’t know. I still think it’s part of the solution, but it doesn’t have to be done today.


Should the majority leader move a bill coming out of the Senate that contains guest-worker that doesn’t have the majority support of House Republicans?

Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.): I would think that any bill that goes to the floor should be supported by a solid majority of House Republicans.

Now, do you think the Senate and the President are holding border security hostage to get guest-worker?

King: I don’t see anyone held hostage, this is all part of a process. … So, I’m not accusing anyone of holding anyone hostage. There’s always maneuvering going on and mechanisms being used. What’s one person’s hostage is another one’s convincing, or pressure. To me there’s nothing wrong going on.


Should the majority leader try to win passage of a Senate guest-worker bill that is not supported by the majority of House Republicans?

Rep. Steve King (R.-IOWA.): Absolutely not. It goes against our understanding of how we conduct business. You don’t run over the majority of Republicans for the majority of open-borders people. We should not even appoint conferees for any bill that contains guest-worker. It would be better not to even have a bill.

Do you think the White House and the Senate are holding border security hostage to get guest-worker?

King: That’s a very well-placed question. Did you stay up all night thinking of that one?
There was some time spent on it.

King: I never believed that the open-borders people were for any type of enforcement. Any form of guest-worker without going home is amnesty and those that favor it should have to march around here with the scarlet letter ‘A’ for amnesty.


Should the majority leader try to get passage of a Senate guest-worker bill that is not supported by the majority of House Republicans?

Rep. Tom Price (R.-Ga.): I don’t think so. I think that the speaker and the majority leader have clearly said in precedent they would support in conference what the House has passed. I think any discussion about temporary worker is premature until we adopt what the House has passed.

Do you think the White House and the Senate are trying to hold border security hostage to get guest-worker?

Price: I don’t sense that yet.


Chairman, do you think the Senate will hold border security hostage to get guest-worker?

House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R.-Wis.): Ask them.


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