House GOP backer of immigration reform throws in towel
July 10th, 2014
06:42 PM ET
5 months ago

House GOP backer of immigration reform throws in towel

Washington (CNN) – You know immigration reform is truly dead on Capitol Hill when Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart throws in the towel.

Diaz-Balart has been one of staunchest immigration reform advocates in Congress.

Thursday morning he made one final push in a meeting with Speaker John Boehner to get a House vote on a targeted reform bill he crafted with a small bipartisan group, but he was shut down.

"Today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year. It is disappointing and highly unfortunate, because we have a unique opportunity to secure the borders, fix our broken immigration system, and strengthen our economy," Diaz-Balart said at a press conference at the Capitol.

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The Florida Republican is the son of a former Cuban politician and represents a Miami area district. He has worked for years with various groups of House Republicans and Democrats to push for immigration reform. He tried more intensively in the last eighteen months to come up with a proposal that would thread the tricky political needle of attracting support from both parties. Although he never formally introduced the legislation, his proposal included strong border enforcement provisions, new accountability measures to track the Administration's efforts to crack down on illegal crossings, and a process for those 11 million undocumented workers to gain legal status.

Even after President Barack Obama announced last month that he would no longer wait for Congress to act on immigration and he would use his executive authority, Diaz-Balart was arguing he could round up the votes to support his reform bill. But on Thursday he acknowledged he won’t get the chance.

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Diaz-Balart called the decision to punt on the issue of immigration reform "highly irresponsible" and criticized leaders of both parties and the White House for shirking their jobs.

"By blocking reform, whether it was when Nancy Pelosi was speaker or now, we are in effect abdicating our duty."

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Diaz Balart added, “we have a President that is willing to unilaterally act through executive action, that he himself has said is legally circumspect, will not provide a long-term solution to our immigration system, and I believe could even make it worse.”

Boehner's spokesman declined to comment on the meeting with Diaz-Balart, citing a policy of not discussing private discussions with members.

Diaz-Balart thanked Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, who has been his chief partner in the effort, and the small group of House Republicans he had been consulting, including Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R- Florida.

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Gutierrez told reporters he was "very proud" of Diaz-Balart's efforts. He insisted that because the major education effort the Florida Republican had put in on the issue if the legislation they worked on came up for a vote it would pass.

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Filed under: House Republicans • Immigration
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Iamnotfooled

    People need to wake up and realize the only way to get immigration reform is to vote Republicans out and Democrats in. Period.

    July 10, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    -USA needs very strict immigration reform. Cut all types of visas. More populous–less prosperous.

    July 10, 2014 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  3. Russ

    Boehner to Diaz-Balart: "We don't do plans or reforms we just block anything that might make Obama look good. Got it? No shut up and go back to your hole in the wall."

    July 10, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  4. SniffThis

    How about the Gang of 8 Amnesty Bill?
    It had great stuff for ILLEGAL Immigrants. An immigrant can forge up to 3 fake US passports until their immigration status is 'reviewed'. Funny... If a US Citizen forges just 1 US Passport it is a felony and you go to jail.

    When a reporter called McCain out on this, he just had a blank look on his face.

    July 10, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  5. Alan

    Right wingers so afraid of their base are not willing to do a thing to resolve the problem. Their only desire is to blame the President for everything and leave it at that. Where were all these right wingers when all these immigrants were crossing the Mexican border by the millions during George W. Term.

    July 10, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  6. Malory Archer

    yolanda
    Sorry @Malory, but the vote was 75-22. Obviously there was some Republican support.......wow, talk about low information, or is it simply low math competence?

    ++++++++++++++

    You must have missed 'it must be said's' comment immediately following mine. I stand by my statement.

    July 10, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. Gary

    I know this is how are system works. But what a shame that one man, who was not elected by a majority of American voters, can hold up any progress in fixing things. Anythings. Everythings. Truley a pathetic man.

    July 10, 2014 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  8. Denise

    The ONLY reason Boehner will not bring the immigration bill, or any bill Obama likes up for a vote is because he is AFRAID it will pass. It's common sense if members of the house don't like the bill then vote NO. But refusing to send it to the floor for a vote is wrong for everyone. Maybe it should not be up to one person to decide which bills to vote on. Come on Boehner MAN-UP and do your job so your fellow house members can do there's.

    July 10, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  9. g

    sanction mexico ,no more trade.make them pay for illegals .the problem would go away .make mexico pay

    July 10, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  10. MrManhattan

    Republicans have no interest in solving the nation's problems if Obama gets any credit. They must be voted out before the country can move forward again.

    July 10, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Guns Over People teatards have left the border wide open since Ronnie signed amnesty in the 80's. Crying like babies now.
    They really think that Americans are all FoxLies watchers.

    July 10, 2014 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  12. DRAKE MALLARD

    Ted Cruz and Mario Diaz-Balart,leana Ros-Lehtinen. marco rubio/other cubans have credibility on immigration issues when they advocates that immigrants from other countries are treated the same as those from their homeland – Cuba. So either grant automatic legal status as soon as they set foot on American soil, or make Cubans go through the same process as any other immigrant. Until then, just another hypocrite.

    There should not be a "wet foot, dry foot" policy. Cubans should be subject to the same immigration requirements as any other would be immigrant. No special treatment.

    July 10, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  13. rs

    The GOP's slow suicide continues.... film at 11.

    July 10, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  14. Thomas

    I didn't know they had towels ?

    MAybe the GOP can look into how For Profit Universities are defrauding the US Tax payed for billions of dollars .

    Vetrans are being ripped off , and the GOP dose knotting but shakes hands with for profit lobbyists .

    July 10, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  15. Chipster

    One thing you can say about this Congress is that they have earned their approval rating of 7% ! If they keep working at it, they might even get into double digits – NEGATIVE double digits!

    July 10, 2014 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  16. alex

    If it came up for a vote it would pass. But we all know the new dictator Boehner doesn't like to allow votes if it moves things forward. Boehner needs to be sued by the American people for not allowing our representatives, our voices, to be heard and to represent us in the legislative process.

    July 10, 2014 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  17. ak_steve

    SO Boehner shoots down his own parties attempts at immigration reform and then proceeds to blame it all on Obama. Can you get any more childish and deceitful?

    July 11, 2014 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  18. Charles Hawkins

    Republicans have blocked or attempted to block this president fro doing anything about anything. Now to say the problems that we face as a nation are squarely Obama's fault is pathetic. However it is effective because obviously if you repeat a lie often enough a conservative will vote for it.

    July 11, 2014 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  19. an Iowan

    Of course he was shut down by the House! Boehner has to keep up his "do nothing" agenda!
    I place ALL the blame for this crisis on the GOP!

    July 11, 2014 07:36 am at 7:36 am |