House Immigration Group Disbands, Reform Debate Continues

A group of seven in the House of Representatives had been working on a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

A group of representatives in the House had been working on crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill for years. However, the group, which consists of a bipartisan coalition of seven representatives, appears to have split.

“It doesn’t appear that we’re going to move forward with the group of seven,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a key member on immigration as a member of the group, told The Washington Post. “The process is stalled. I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”

From The Washington Post:

But Gutierrez tells me that House Republicans on the gang of seven — who have been trying to negotiate comprehensive reform that members of both parties can support for a long time — are just not prepared to embrace a final plan.  He says he believes this is because House GOP leaders are not providing Republicans on the gang with support.

“The bipartisan group just wasn’t getting support from Republican House leadership,” Gutierrez says.  “It’s just not gonna happen now.”  Gutierrez continues to believe there is substantial tacit support for immigration reform even among Republicans, but that the GOP leadership refuses to acknowledge this or try to make something happen.  “We need the GOP leadership to acknowledge the votes exist for reform,” he said.

What does this mean for comprehensive immigration reform?

Simply put, it means the bipartisan effort in the House on reform has ended.

But more importantly, it opens up some options for immigration reform in the House. America’s Voice wrote:

It may mean the G7 bipartisan process is dead, but we believe it will shake up the dynamics of the debate in a way that keeps reform very much alive. For us, it opens new possibilities:

It means Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and John Yarmuth (D-KY) are freed from the cul de sac they’ve been stuck in and can use their formidable influence to directly pressure House leadership to take action.

It means that House Democrats no longer have to hold back in deference to the G7 process and can bring their pressure to bear on House Republican leadership.

It frees up our champions to be ready to re-engage on a bipartisan basis when Republicans get serious about passing immigration reform measures.

Comprehensive immigration reform is far from dead. The House continues to sit on a bipartisan bill that handily passed the Senate, and the House at large continues its work on some piecemeal bills that can later be combined through conference.

“When one door closes, other doors open,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.