World & Nation

Immigration legislation’s prospects bleak after bitter budget fight

WASHINGTON – The rough justice dispensed by the White House and Senate Democrats during the standoff impasse has further soured key House Republicans on passing immigration legislation.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who earlier this year had been working with lawmakers from both parties to write an immigration bill, said that President Obama’s refusal to negotiate with House Speaker John Boehner over funding the government and increasing the country’s borrowing limit made him unwilling to enter into talks over immigration.

“After the way the president acted over the last two or three weeks where he would refuse to talk to the speaker of the House … they’re not going to get immigration reform. It’s done,” Labrador said, walking off the House floor Wednesday night after voting against the measure to open the government and increase the debt limit.

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President Obama said Thursday morning that with the shutdown fight over, he wants Congress to get a bill to his desk that will fix the immigration system. “Let’s get this done,” Obama said.

The Senate passed a broad immigration overhaul bill in June with the votes of every Democrat in the chamber and 15 of its Republicans. But Boehner has refused to bring the bill to a vote on the House floor because it is unlikely to receive the support of the majority of GOP House members.

House Republicans have long said they want to pass a series of bills that overhaul different parts of the immigration system. The House Judiciary Committee has held hearings this year on increasing the number of visas given to high-tech workers, ratcheting up requirements for employers to check the immigration status of new hires, and allowing immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to apply for legal status, among other measures.

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But none of them have been brought to the floor for a vote.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) has been working with a handful of fellow Republicans to craft a bill that would increase border security and clear a way for immigrants in the country illegally to apply for legal status. He said that this bill has a chance of passing the House, if it is included in a raft of bills that fix different parts of the immigration system.

“There’s a lot of folks here who have been working and feel cautiously optimistic,” Diaz-Balart said of the immigration effort in the House, after Wednesday night’s vote to end the budget impasse.

“I wouldn’t be spending this much time, this much effort, if I didn’t think we had a chance to get it done,” Diaz-Balart said.

Ohio Republican Steve Stivers said he would normally be open to finding a way forward on overhauling the immigration system, but the most recent standoff has made him wary of the Senate Democrats and Obama’s willingness to enter into a give and take.

“I’m a guy who is pretty reasonable on that issue, and I think we can find common ground. But they didn’t try to find common ground here,” Stivers said after Wednesday’s House vote on the debt limit. “And it doesn’t bode well for whatever the next chapter is, unfortunately,” Strivers said.

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