Last year the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the most comprehensive immigration bill in a decade, but it has languished in the divided House where many conservative Republicans have vowed it will never see the light of day.
The standoff between the House and Senate leadership on the issue and the continued sparing between the House majority and the president would seem to indicate that there is little hope for passage of a bill this year, especially during the mid-term election cycle.
But then again, there just might be ray a of hope based on a new proposal by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, and what some think is the desire of Speaker John Boehner to try to push for a vote on a bill sometime this summer.
The Senate bill calls for a path to citizenship for most of the 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country, an idea that is a nonstarter for many Republicans in Congress who call that plan “amnesty.”
Barton, appearing Sunday on a local political talk show, surprised many around the state and in Washington when he said he would introduce his own immigration legislation that would include a path to legalization — not citizenship — for adults here illegally who have committed no other crime. His bill would provide a path to citizenship for those who were brought here as children.
Showing a compassionate side, Barton said about the children: “They are Americans and we need to acknowledge that and find a way, to those that wish to be a part of the American dream for opportunity, to make them legal.”
A bill from Barton, a conservative from a red state like Texas that has 1.7 million illegal immigrants, could be the proposal that gets both sides talking again on Capitol Hill. And it just may be the vehicle Boehner can use to get House Republicans to consider during that narrow window of opportunity that opens early this summer when most will be past primary elections.
Boehner says that the biggest obstacle to the passage of any immigration bill is Republicans’ lack of trust for President Obama. But as the president has said, a comprise means no one gets everything they want.
So let Barton introduce his bill. Then let the bipartisan conversation begin.