The House “gang” that has spent years trying to craft a bipartisan immigration-reform bill appears to be breaking up — a considerable, but by no means lethal blow to the backers of the Senate Gang of Eight legislation.
The House gang began with eight members, but was reduced to seven in June, when Representative Raul Labrador (R., Idaho) left the group. On Friday, two of the three remaining Republicans in the group, Representatives John Carter and Sam Johnson of Texas, announced their departure, citing “a lack of faith in President Obama to enforce current and new laws necessary to solve the immigration problem.”
“After years of hard work and countless meetings, we have reached a tipping point and can no longer continue working on a broad approach to immigration,” the congressmen said in a joint statement. “We want to be clear. The problem is politics. Instead of doing what’s right for America, President Obama time and again has unilaterally disregarded the U.S. Constitution, the letter of the law and bypassed the Congress — the body most representative of the people — in order to advance his political agenda. We will not tolerate it.”
“If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior; we know that any measure depending on the president’s enforcement will not be faithfully executed,” they said. ”It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system. The bottom line is — the American people do not trust the President to enforce laws, and we don’t either.”
Carter and Johnson pledged to continue working with their Republican colleagues in the House in search of ”a way to fix this problem that will instill the authentic accountability that has been missing in immigration for the past 25 years.” Immigration reform must start “with a genuinely secure border, full implementation of E-verify, effective enforcement of current and future laws, and a commitment that any proposal contributes to a healthy economy,” they said.
Representative Luis Gutierrez, a Democratic member of the House gang, offered a dire prognosis to the Washington Post. “It doesn’t appear that we’re going to move forward with the group of seven,” he said. ”The process is stalled. I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”
Still, a GOP aide cautions that the break up of the House gang “doesn’t mean this thing is dead,” citing the behind-the-scenes efforts of powerful interests groups such as Big Labor and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the continued efforts of Representative Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to bring immigration-reform legislation to the floor. House budget chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) recently said he “feels fairly optimistic about a number of bills going forward and reaching the House floor and going to conference with the Senate bill.”