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This Week in Immigration Reform: Still Hanging On…

Demonstrators march against amnesty for illegal aliens, during a rally against the immigration reform bill in Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington July 15, 2013

While many fear immigration reform is “dead”, there are still some optimists out there.  We’ve got a lot to cover in the sphere of immigration reform, so let’s get to it.

Last week’s most anticipated immigration moment was Wednesday’s House GOP strategy meetingAccording to the National Journal, “What was billed as a consequential and potentially defining meeting for the House Republican Conference devolved into what members described as an extended listening session, with lawmakers reiterating many of the same points they’ve been making for months—and with leadership offering the same noncommittal responses.” The House GOP leadership released a joint statement after the meeting, confirming their “step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system.” Check out the New York Times and Politico for coverage of the meeting details, and the Washington Post and Huffington Post for attendees’ reactions.  

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is open to the Republican’s piecemeal approach, as long as it contains a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Sens. Jon McCain and Chuck Schumer believe the Senate is open to conferencing with the House on multiple, smaller immigration bills. Sen. Harry Reid reiterated the imperative for Republicans to pass immigration reform, and posited if the House voted, “it would pass overwhelmingly.” He is not the only one who thinks so – Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter to agree with him.

While Wednesday’s meeting was certainly high-profile, it wasn’t the only House meeting regarding reform. House Democrats met with the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” Democrats, and emerged saying “the path to citizenship is the one thing they won’t sacrifice for votes on an immigration package.” Rep. Steve King has been hosting meetings with some of the House’s most conservative GOP members, “[strategizing] about how to sink efforts to pass a comprehensive reform bill.” 

In addition to King’s group, William Kristol and Rich Lowry, editors of the Weekly Standard and National Review, published an attention-getting “kill the bill” op-ed of the same name. A notable counter argument—“Pass the Bill!”—surfaced from David Brooks.

Activists and interest groups are continuing with targeted campaigns of House Republicans, and identified a list of “99 ‘gettable’ GOP votes.” The Huffington Post’s whip list is keeping track of how the 435 Representatives may vote on reform. 

We also saw significant discussion about a pathway to citizenship over the past few days. Rep. Xavier Becerra, “Gang of Seven” member, confirmed there is a pathway to citizenship in the working group’s bill.  House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte announced he is “open-minded” toward a legal status for undocumented immigrants, who could then apply for citizenship via existing channels. Goodlatte and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor are planning to propose a bill similar to the DREAM Act, which would “provide a legal status to those who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children by their parents.” 

Last week was a big one for public polling. A Gallup poll released last week shows “72 percent of Americans consider immigration a good thing” for the United States, a high water mark since the question was first asked in 2001. A second Gallup poll finds 48 percent of U.S. adults consider the Democratic Party’s approach to immigration reform “closer to [their] own,” compared with 36 percent in favor of the Republican Party’s approach. Public Policy Polling identifies seven vulnerable House Republicans, whose constituents “would be less likely to vote for their current representative if he doesn’t support immigration reform.”

The White House continues to cheer from the sideline on immigration reform, which is what Sens. John McCain and Chuck Schumer prefer. On Monday, the administration released a report touting the economic benefits of immigration reform. 

Lastly, on Friday Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced her resignation.  The Washington Post suggests why this will not (additionally) hinder reform efforts and outlines a list of potential successors.

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