The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 8, 2013

Immigration, student loan top congressional agenda

(Continued)

In the Republican-controlled House, courteous behavior, even within the GOP ranks, has barely been perceptible with the ignominious failure of the farm bill. Some collaboration will be necessary if the House is to move ahead on immigration legislation this month.

Conservatives from safe, gerrymandered House districts have rebuffed appeals from some national Republicans who argue that embracing immigration overhaul will boost the party's political standing with an increasingly diverse electorate, especially in the 2016 presidential election. The conservatives strongly oppose any legislation offering legalization to immigrants living here illegally.

Reflecting the will of the rank and file, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and other Republicans have said the comprehensive Senate immigration bill that couples the promise of citizenship for those living here unlawfully with increased border security is a nonstarter in the House.

Republicans were assessing the views of their constituents during the weeklong July Fourth break and planned to discuss their next steps at a private meeting Wednesday.

"I think what members need before we proceed on the actual immigration reform is an ironclad guarantee that the border is going to be secure," Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said just before the recess. He didn't see any urgency to acting quickly.

"I find it very interesting the argument that we can't wait till the border is secure, we can't even do a six-month test to make sure ... we have to get them out of the shadows immediately," Salmon said. "They've been in the shadows for 20 years, and another six months is going to break their backs? I mean come on, that's not even a valid argument."

The House Judiciary Committee has adopted a piecemeal approach, approving a series of bills, none with a path to citizenship that Obama and Democrats are seeking. Democrats hope the single-issue bills get them to a conference with the Senate, where the prospects for a far-reaching overhaul improve.

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