Will House Republicans Kill the Bush Immigration Plan?
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Republican members of House of Representatives continue to send their collective message to President George W. Bush and Senate liberals such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): They are overwhelmingly opposed to any deal that provides illegal immigrants a path to citizenship through a program that amounts to "amnesty" for over 12 million illegal aliens.
The heated rhetoric emanating from the GOP members of the House significantly dims the prospects that President Bush will win the immigration compromise he is seeking, according to the GOP establishment within the Beltway.
The Republican opposition spreads across the geographical and ideological boundaries that often divide House Republicans, according to interviews with about half of the roughly 40 members whom political handicappers consider most vulnerable to defeat this November. Republicans -- from moderates such as Chris Shays in suburban Connecticut and Steve Chabot in Cincinnati to conservative J.D. Hayworth in Arizona -- continue to say they are adamant that Congress not take any action that might be perceived as rewarding illegal behavior.
Shays, one of the few vulnerable House Republicans open to a broad compromise with the Senate, said strong protests from his constituents this month prompted him to come out for the first time against "citizenship for undocumented workers."
“It would be a huge mistake to give people a path to citizenship that came here illegally,” he told the Washington Post.
Surprisingly, Shays' constituents are Northeast liberals who have voiced their concerns over uncontrolled illegal immigration and the reality of porous, unprotected borders.
The House Republicans have molded a near united front against Bush’s approach to immigration. The message of GOP representatives is clear: the president faces a tough time if he plans to coax the House to embrace what he calls a “rational middle ground,” along the lines of a bipartisan bill that passed the Senate on a 62-36 vote last Thursday.
While these lawmakers are reflecting the will of their constituents, GOP leaders in the House are basing their legislative strategy regarding illegal aliens on how it will affect members in the upcoming November elections.
According to the Republican National Committee staff and political strategists, over 75 percent of the 231 Republican members are steadfastly opposed to the Senate bill or even a watered-down version of it. Add the Democrat congressmen who are also vulnerable this fall should they vote in favor of "amnesty," and it appears there is a good chance the Senate bill -- chock full of goodies for illegal aliens, as well as the Mexican government -- will die a death of a thousand cuts ... hopefully.
While a few polls, which some believe are skewered, show bipartisan support for Bush's immigration giveaway, most GOP lawmakers said the House plan to secure the borders and enforce existing immigration laws is unquestionably the safer political stand in his or her district. House staffers have intimated that enforcement of existing laws coupled with tough, no-nonsense border security is the winning hand in the political game.
Most of these lawmakers reject the argument made by the White House and Senate Republicans such as John McCain that the best long-term political strategy is to craft a compromise that is appealing to many Latinos, the fastest-growing minority group in America.
House Republicans view that argument as pandering to a potential voting-block which ultimately leads to big-spending programs and redistribution of wealth -- a hallmark of liberal-think.
House Republicans appear ready to forcefully debate the issue with their Senate counterparts. The shaky Senate coalition, led by McCain and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), that passed the so-called comprehensive legislation is held together by a common belief that it would be unwise and unworkable to deal with the borders only and not solve the problem of what to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants living here. The coalition will crumble if the House Republicans prevail, according to senators and aides.
But House members fire back that if current enforcement of laws aimed at cracking down on employers of illegal aliens are strategically implemented, the jobs would disappear and so would many illegals.
Lately, the Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has announced several cases in which employers were arrested for hiring and harboring illegal aliens, but voices within Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the investigative branch of DHS, claim that there is little support by their superiors to go after some of the top corporations that employ tens of thousands of illegal aliens.
Last week, the White House dispatched their wonderboy, Karl Rove, who is lobbying -- some say strong-arming -- House members to reconsider their positions and the hope is that more moderate Republicans will cave-in to Bush's wishes. At the same time, there are letters, e-mails and telephone calls flooding Washington, DC from Americans who wish to see the Senate's immigration bill blasted to smithereens, with pieces of the tattered bill littering the floor of the House of Representatives.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.