In a caucus meeting yesterday House Republicans rejected the principle of comprehensive immigration reform and specifically rejected S.744, the Senate-passed reform bill. Although House Republicans claim they will continue to pass bits of immigration legislation, they would not commit to any time frame or commit to any legalization process. In essence, House Republicans have said no to immigration reform. Immigration reform only works if enforcement and legalization–and legalization meaning some eventual path to U.S. citizenship–go hand-in-hand. No side will ever be willing to give up their negotiating leverage by permitting one piece to go first; there is simply no trust that the remaining piece will ever be taken up. If legalization and enforcement don’t go together, they don’t go. The Senate figured out a way to do this. House Republicans don’t want legalization at all (see their “SAFE Act” which doubles down on attrition and self-deportation). Which means that whatever energy they spend on piecemeal immigration legislation is just political cover and ultimately a waste of time. If legalization isn’t part of the deal, no other immigration legislation of significance will pass the Senate. At the end of the day, most House Republicans see little price to pay themselves for rejecting immigration reform. And as a result of gerrymandered districting that insulates congressional representatives from national political realities, they may be right.
Update 7/12/2013: Here’s a great chart highlighting the demographics of districting mentioned above.