Jeff Flake Charts the Path to Amnesty

| November 9 2013
John Walker

Here’s How They’ll Seal the Deal in the House

While the Obamacare fiasco swirled around an embattled White House Tuesday, President Obama turned to an audience from business and assured them that he is making progress on passing comprehensive immigration reform this year.

Using one of his favorite phrases, the president said  he was hopeful that lawmakers on Capitol Hill ultimately will “do the right thing” and move on immigration soon. He has good reason to be optimistic.

“And although right now there’s been some resistance from House Republicans,” Obama said, “what’s been encouraging is, is that there are a number of House Republicans who have said, we think this is the right thing to do, as well.  And it’s my estimation that we actually have votes to get comprehensive immigration reform done in the House right now.”

Obama is right on target. Just ask Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. He says House Republican leaders have a plan to finesse the sticky issue of the Senate-passed pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegals living in the United States. To House conservatives, the pathway to citizenship means only one thing – amnesty. So immigration reform advocates like Flake need a way to dress it up as something else. But amnesty is still amnesty.

A member of the Gang of Eight that produced the Senate bill, Flake said in an interview with Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic that there is “active movement” in the House to craft a legalization measure that differs just enough from the Senate’s pathway to citizenship to pass the House.

“From those I’ve been talking to,” Flake told the Republic, “I think that we’ve got a good shot at a breakthrough there. The House can move this as fast as they want if they decide to do this. There is time and space on the calendar between now and the end of the year, if we decide we can do it.”

Details of the legalization scheme apparently include elements of the so-called Dream Act regulations imposed by Obama and provisions for some farm workers. Other illegals could seek legalization through sponsorship by their children or employers.

The legalization measure would be combined with a number of immigration reform measures passed in June by the House Judiciary Committee, including bills that provide for border security and employment verification.

If passed by the House – the package would surely get the support of all Democrats and enough moderate Republicans – the bill would move to a conference with the Senate. A House-Senate conference is the Holy Grail for immigration reform advocates. If they can reach a conference, it’s a done deal.

Flake said lobbying by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other pro-immigration reform groups are moving the process forward in the House. The point man is Congressman Paul Ryan, a key House leader who has been working with his Democratic colleagues to pass immigration reform this year.

Conservatives in the House Republican caucus are up against it. They know that Speaker John Boehner wants an immigration bill this year. They also know that a House-Senate conference on immigration will play right into the hands of Obama and Congressional Democrats. It will be their victory.

Throughout the month-long crisis for Obama over the Obamacare launch, the president has turned repeatedly to immigration reform as the most pressing item on his agenda of unfinished business. It appears now that he has been doing more than trying to change the subject. There is a chance for a real “breakthrough” on immigration reform. Just ask Jeff Flake.

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