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Immigration Reform in the House of Representatives

January 10, 2013

In assessing the likelihood of immigration reform moving through Congress, all eyes are on the House Judiciary Committee, whose subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement will likely be the first committee in the House to consider immigration legislation.

The newly-appointed chair of the Judiciary Committee is Rep. Bob Goodlatte (Rep. – VA). He is described in an NPR blog post as

a former immigration attorney who has taken a hard line against Democratic proposals, many of which he has regarded as amnesty. He opposes the Obama administration’s policy changes, including its deferred deportation program that provides a two-year reprieve to qualified young people brought to the United States illegally as children.

The immigration subcommittee chairman is Rep. Trey Gowdy (Rep. – SC), described as holding the same conservative positions as Rep. Goodlatte.

House Democrats, most prominently Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Dem. – CA), have been holding talks on potential immigration legislation. She chaired a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show’s Innovation Policy Summit on January 8th, and, according to a press report

Lofgren, who has been aggressively trying to get a meaningful, comprehensive immigration bill passed for many years, seemed surprisingly upbeat.  “This isn’t very tough really,” Lofgren told the group.

The reasons for Lofgren’s newfound optimism can be found in the news from last November’s elections.  She told the CES audience that if the Republicans have any hope of regaining the White House in four years, they must reach out to a broader (e.g. Democratic) slice of the population.  And immigration reform could be a big winner if they play their political cards right.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Dem. – IL) took a leave of absence as the third-ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee to serve on the House Judiciary Committee, stating in his press release

All of the road signs are pointed in the right direction, and I felt I must be on the Judiciary Committee during this Congress to help the others on the Committee get immigration reform to the finish line.  We are poised for serious action to fix our broken immigration system, a top priority for Democrats, for the Democratic Leadership, and for the President, and I have spoken to numerous Republicans in the House and Senate who want to get it done.

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