April 7th, 2013
11:13 AM ET
10 years ago

House members optimistic about immigration overhaul

(CNN) - Two House members working on immigration reform sounded confident Sunday that their upcoming proposal will ultimately mesh well with the Senate's proposal, despite expected battles over the issue in both chambers in the months ahead.

"I am very, very optimistic that the House of Representatives is going to have a plan that is going to be able to go to a conference with the Senate in which we're going to be able to resolve differences," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illiniois, said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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He was joined by his Republican colleague Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida. They're part of a "Gang of Eight" in the House that has been quietly working on a proposal, while a similar bipartisan group in the Senate takes on the same challenge.

Both groups staunchly oppose the idea of sending home the 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. The Senate group explicitly says that any path to citizenship, however, must come after the border is considered secure.

Asked if the House version would have a similar prerequisite, the two House members seemed less certain.

"You can't have a bill without border security. You just can't," Diaz-Balart said.

Pressed further on whether that provision would be a priority, Gutierrez said, "I think we can do this simultaneously."

"I think first thing we're going to do is, we're going to put people in a safe place. That is 11 million people, you can give them a work permit, Social Security card, driver's license," he added. "And then the second part is the path to the green card, that permanent residency that leads to citizenship."

The 1986 immigration bill passed under President Ronald Reagan was widely criticized for allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country without enforcing tighter border control measures. Asked how the House "Gang of Eight" will assure members of Congress that a similar result won't take place, Diaz-Balart said, "There has to be a real - not lip service - a real serious order and interior security component of this."

"We don't want to go through this effort to be in the same place five or 10 years down the road. And therefore we have to learn from the mistakes of the past. Part of it is border security. Part of it is interior security," he told CNN’s chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

The Senate proposal is expected to come "in the next couple of weeks," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, however said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that they hope to get a deal done by the end of the week.

CNN reported that the eight senators have tentatively reached agreement on some of the thorniest issues, including the establishment of a path to citizenship and the creation of a system to assess the state of border security.

Business and labor leaders appear to have settled on a deal establishing a new immigrant guest worker program, as well. Although, Graham said Sunday they were "revisiting that."

Schumer told CNN later Sunday morning that they were about three-fourths of a the way there in terms of drafting the language, and on the guest worker sticking point, he said details for nonagriculture workers are agreed on but it's the agriculture guest worker part that is still being discussed.

The bill will still likely face resistance among some who may see the legislation as amnesty for those who came to the country illegally.

As for the timeline on the House plan, Diaz-Balart said the measure should be done this year, but added the group’s "concern is to get it done well, not quickly."

"I expect very, very, very soon for that proposal to come forward," Gutierrez added. "But I do want to stress that this is a comprehensive approach to our immigration system."

Other House members involved in the talks are Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas; Rep. John Carter, R-Texas; Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho; Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-California; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California; and Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky.

- CNN's Alan Silverleib and Athena Jones contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: House • Immigration • Luis Gutierrez • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. forumsforjustice

    Mandating, and ENFORCING, E-Verify for all jobs, and any entitlement, with harsh prosecutions of any offending employer, as well as the offending illegal immigrants, would do more to stop illegal immigration, than any futile attempt to secure the border, and also do it much faster, and at far less expense. At the same time, E-Verify would provide jobs for millions of Americans

    Simply put, E-Verify is, by far, the single most-effective tool we, the people have, to prevent illegal immigration.

    April 7, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Catmandew

    More bs by our government! Why are they so worried about makin illegal immigrants legal? We have so many other things that need fixin. Easy fix find out what Mexico and other countries do to illegals and just do that to the ones here. Or just shoot them all then they won't want to break our laws and expect us to just give them free everything while our own people starve and get sick and die!

    April 7, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. forumsforjustice

    Join, we, the people, in holding the line ...


    we, the people, stand united against amnesty, protected legal status, or whatever else they choose to call it ... this isn't about party, this isn't about votes, and above all this isn't about race, nationality, ethnicity, color, or religion ... this is about protecting America, our sovereign nation, against an invasion by 10's of millions of illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants who broke our laws when they crossed our border; or overstayed their visas. Then came document fraud, identity theft, and illegal employment. We are a nation of laws; we, the people, do not reward those who wantonly break our laws. We, the people, want our existing federal laws against illegal immigration enforced ... nothing more, nothing less ... it's as simple as that ... it really is

    April 7, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. magyart

    Join NumbersUSA and fight amnesty !

    April 7, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. Ed1

    You want reform go back home and come in the front door not the back door like over 11 million have.

    You have no rights here you are an illegal can't you understand that go to any other country and see what would happen. The Democrats just want more votes and give away programs.

    Are we a Country of stupid people or what.

    We will be the largest third world country in the world at the rate we are going with out no leadership Democrats and President.

    April 7, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. americabetrayed

    The absolutely, positively, honest to God final amnesty EVER was passed in 1986 and signed into law by Ronald Reagan. Boy, did the American people get sucker-punched by that one. What we've had is one corrupt and treasonous regime after another who have failed to give us what Reagan promised; a secure border and strict enforcement in the workplace and elsewhere. The worst regime so far is that of tin pot dictator Comrade ObaMao. This skullduggery has got to stop, existing laws must be enforced, these border-jumping parasites need to be ejected, and Comrade O’s traitorous acts need to be prosecuted.

    By the way, Reagan later said that signing that wretched amnesty bill was the biggest mistake of his presidency. It sure was.

    I say build a wall and deport ‘em all. NOW!

    April 7, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. truth hurts but reality bites

    It is pretty clear the Democrat Party is totally willing to sell their country down the tubes in order to buy the votes of hispanics, legal and illegal. With the Democrat Party, everything is for sale, including our soverieignty. We will eventually be debating on whether to change our name to the United States of Mexico. Wake up America.

    April 7, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |