House GOP taking the scenic route on immigration reform

The House Judiciary Committee is kicking off a series of hearings on immigration policy on Tuesday

Topics: Immigration, Bob Goodlatte, House Judiciary Committee, House Republicans,

House GOP taking the scenic route on immigration reform Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. (Credit: Facebook/BobGoodlatte)

The Senate is on the fast track toward immigration reform legislation, with a bipartisan group of senators rolling out a framework last week, while making optimistic predictions that it a bill will happen this year.

But the House is taking a much slower path, on Tuesday kicking off a series of hearings on current immigration policy before the House Judiciary Committee. From Politico:

But while the Senate group on immigration includes conservatives like Florida Republican Marco Rubio, members of the House Republican caucus haven’t been too keen on endorsing the plan right off the bat. Anything that could be seen as amnesty for illegal immigrations could tempt a primary challenge from the right. Not acting at all, however, could help Democrats at the ballot box.

So rather than try to reach a deal first like the Senate did, the House will start its immigration push in a different way: with a hearing.

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The committee’s Chair, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told Politico that the hearings won’t address the Senate’s plan: “Most members of Congress don’t know a lot about immigration law,” he said, so instead they’ll review current policy.

“What we want to find out [is]… what House members can support on all of the different aspects of immigration to see whether we can proceed with a larger bill that has more components to it or a series of smaller bills that address lots of different aspects of our broken immigration system,” he said.

The New York Times reports that the House has its own group of bipartisan lawmakers huddling about immigration reform, but it’s unclear what their progress is so far:

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has also been meeting, but they have made few public comments about their proposals. Those lawmakers and immigration advocates on both sides of the debate are looking to Tuesday’s hearing as an early glimpse of how an immigration overhaul could play out in the House. The tone the members take in their questioning — particularly the Republicans — will likely offer a sense of where they stand on the issue going forward. Proponents of an overhaul are watching Mr. Goodlatte with cautious optimism, viewing him as less of a hard-liner than [his predecessor, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas].

The hearings themselves could prove interesting, to say the least, with far-right Republicans like Steve King, R-Iowa, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., both  sitting on the House Judiciary Committee.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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