Conservative voices on the need for #immigration reform in 2014. H/T @pwolgin @CAPimmigration

Courtesy of the Center For American Progress

Republicans Talking to Republicans: Lean In and Do Immigration Reform



Last week House Republicans released a statement of principles on immigration reform, including, for the first time, an endorsement of legalization for unauthorized Americans. But just yesterday House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) argued that it would be difficult to actually move a bill, stating that House Republicans did not trust that President Obama will enforce the laws. At this point Republicans are no longer making an argument about policy—even Speaker Boehner acknowledges that immigration reform needs to happen—but instead they are making a cynical political judgment that it is better for them to put off immigration reform, and instead focus on the November election.


Not all Republicans believe that ignoring immigration reform is a good thing, and below are responses from party leaders and thinkers making the case that Republicans must act on immigration reform, and the sooner they do, the better.


Demographic/Electorate Urgency Response:

Whit Ayres (GOP Pollster):

  • “If Republicans wait until 2015 to tackle this issue, that puts a very emotional and controversial issue right in the middle of the Republican presidential selection process,” “The opportunity for demagoguery will be exceedingly prevalent if we wait that long.” Washington Post – January 31, 2014
  • “The people who believe that 2014 is not the right year are also likely to believe that 2015 is not the right year and 2016 is not the right year,” he said. “And before you know it, the hole we’ve started digging with Hispanics gets deeper and deeper.” Reuters – February 6, 2013
  • “As we saw in 2012, just by virtue of having this debate, we alienate the fastest growing portion of the electorate.” “That could result in us starting the next general election on our heels.” Washington Post – January 31, 2014
  • “If you subscribe to the theory that there are fundamental demographic challenges the GOP must sooner or later address, then it’s better not to postpone this. There really is no good time to eat your vegetables.” Daily Caller – January 31, 2014
  • “There will always be people [who have] different reasons for opposing the change. We have a history in this country of demagoguery when it comes [to immigration]. You know, ‘Irish Need Not Apply.’ There’s nothing new going on today that’s gone on before. This isn’t the first time that there’s been some ugliness around the issue of immigration.” BuzzFeed – January 29, 2014
  • “Here’s what I don’t get: When you ask primary voters in a poll would support a pathway to citizenship where you have to learn English, pay a fine and go to the back of the line, it’s 60% in South Carolina,” Graham said. “Nationally, it’s over 70% … it seems through polling, if nothing else, that the Republican Party gets it.” BuzzFeed – January 29, 2014
  • “My theory is that we can win in 2014 without resolving [immigration]. We can’t win in 2016 without resolving it.” National Journal – January 5, 2014
  • “Whether Republicans understand the nature of the challenges they face–and if they do how they intend to deal with them and who will emerge from their ranks to lead them–will go a long way toward determining the future of their party and their country.” Commentary Magazine – February 6, 2014
  • (In response to anti-immigrant comments from the Republican candidate for Texas governor: “I think it’s inappropriate to be shortsighted in terms of achieving political office now and not farsighted in terms of what is best for the Republican Party in the next 10 to 15 to 20 years.” New York Times – February 6, 2014
  • “If you are against the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country, you and your party don’t have a future.” Huffington Post – January 25, 2014
  • “It’s hard to predict the future with great exactitude, but I will tell you this:  If we don’t pass immigration reform this year, we will not win the White House back in 2016, 2020 or 2024.” The Feehery Theory – February 6, 2014
  • “There is a penalty for not doing something.” “The longer this delays, the harder it is for Republicans to build bridges with a very important voting bloc.” Reuters – February 6, 2014
  • “The Republican Party has to take the long view when it comes to appealing to the Hispanic voting bloc. This is more than just launching a Spanish-language website or finding more Spanish speakers among party leaders.” The Feehery Theory – January 27, 2014
  • Boehner “created an expectation in the public and with the Latino public. We expect him to follow through,” Aguilar said. “But if they don’t deal with it, we will be handicapped, whoever is the candidate in 2016.” LA Times – February 6, 2014
  • “The reality is no Republican will take the White House again if Hispanics voted the way they voted in 2012.” “The electorate is changing. There are not enough older, whiter voters, and Republicans have to realize that.” Wall Street Journal – February 6, 2014
  • “If the party doesn’t reach out affirmatively to the immigrant communities, we’re going to be a shrinking minority,” Wall Street Journal – February 6, 2014

Patrick Hynes (GOP Strategist, Campaign Advisor for McCain and Romney):

Matthew Lewis (Conservative columnist):

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–SC):

Sen. John Cornyn (R–TX):

Peter Wehner (GOP Policy Advisor/ Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center):

Hector de Leon (Chairman of Associated Republicans of Texas):

Michael Bloomberg (Former Mayor of NYC):

John Feehery (GOP Analyst):

Alfonso Aguilar (Executive Director of Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles):

Ari Fleischer (Former GOP Press Secretary):

John Rowe (GOP Fundraiser):




Action Must/Will Happen on Immigration:


Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA):

  • “The fact that we have the principles out, that there are a number of members that are co-authoring bills and that it’s part of our conference agenda. I would say very likely.” AP – February 4, 2014
  • “Day after the 2012 election, I said it’s time for Congress and the president to deal with this very important issue,” Boehner said at a morning news conference. “I think it’s time to deal with it.” Roll Call – January 30, 2014
  • “It’s not clear sailing, but the ‘heck no’ caucus is quiet, smaller then it was perceived to be.” AP – February 4, 2014
  • “If they really want to address this, I think we can find ways to work together.” “If they don’t want to make it a political issue. I said ‘nope’ kind of tongue-in-cheek, but it seems like maybe the administration is ready to kind of reach out and work with us.” Huffington Post – January 30, 2014
  • “I’m not worried. I’ll just do what the right thing is at the right time and we’ll see how this debate shapes out,” Kinzinger told reporters. CNN – January 30, 2014
  • “We’ve got all kinds of factions in our party.” “We are moving in the right direction. Right now, I see that the train is on its tracks and it’s moving forward.” Bloomberg – January 30, 2014
  • “This is the right time, and we hope that they seize the moment.”  Washington Post – January 24, 2014
  • “It’s probably a good political move. That’s great.” “There’s been willingness on the part of the president, it looks like, and Democratic leadership, to work. And certainly Republican senators will work with them.” National Journal – February 5, 2014
  • “It has been allusive, but I think we are closer than ever to getting that done.” “And I am optimistic that we will be able to get it done this year.” Voxxi – January 31, 2014
  • “There’s a consensus that the system is broken and I’m seeing more and more a desire to fix it.” “Speaker Boehner has been very clear, leadership has been very clear. We’re going to do it methodically, that we’re going to look at it case by case, step by step, we’re not going to rush it.” FoxNews  – January 30, 2014
  • “We have a problem: the laws governing the immigration system are broken. The system is working. We’re now in an important debate about reforming those laws. And that’s good.” C-Span – January 30, 2014
  • “Speaking with CNN‘s Candy Crowley Sunday morning, Jindal argued that the GOP is better off working on an immigration overhaul now, rather than waiting until after the 2014 elections.” Washington Examiner – February 2, 2014
  • “You see in our party, whether it’s [Kentucky Senator] Rand Paul, who’s called for massive immigration reform, or [Florida Senator] Marco Rubio, I think you have general consensus that something big has to happen.”  Washington Times – February 6, 2014
  • “For the Congress not to deal with immigration is indefensible” Politico – January 15, 2014
  • “I don’t agree with the attitude that we can and should wait until next year to pass an immigration reform bill.  To deal with the matter of not trusting this President, I have a pretty simple solution:  Make the major provisions of the law go into effect after he leaves office.  It will take at least a couple years to implement the new systems and write the new regulations any way.  Just delay that process until the President is out of office.  Some Republicans will ask: how can we make sure that we trust the next President?  How will we know if Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush will do what we say on immigration?  It’s hard to predict the future with great exactitude, but I will tell you this:  If we don’t pass immigration reform this year, we will not win the White House back in 2016, 2020 or 2024.” The Feehery Theory – February 6, 2014

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH):

Grover Norquist (GOP Advocate. Founder of Americans for Tax Reform)

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL):

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL):

Carlos Gutierrez (GOP Secretary of Commerce):

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ):

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL):

George W. Bush (Former President):

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA):

Reince Priebus (RNC Chairman):

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN):

John Feehery (GOP Analyst):


Direct Responses to the Republican “Principles”:


Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA):

  • “The fact that we have the principles out, that there are a number of members that are co-authoring bills and that it’s part of our conference agenda. I would say very likely,” Denham told reporters. AP – February 4, 2014
  • “If you legalize somebody without a pathway to citizenship, you’re creating, in essence, a class of people that have no chance of becoming citizens,” Kinzinger said. NPR – January 31, 2014
  • “Kudos to @SpeakerBoehner and @HouseGOP for putting forward principles for #immigrationreform.”  Twitter – January 30, 2014
  •  “The Senate included a pathway to citizenship. That’s what I prefer, and I think the Senate prefers in general.” “The House may say that those who are here illegally can access current avenues to citizenship, but no special path would be created. That would be a kind of hybrid that might win the day. I think that that’s a step forward. I think that’s something that the president could and would accept.” PBS – January 30, 2014
  • “I think it’s very constructive. I think the Speaker has laid out some very strong conservative principles on dealing with immigration reform and making sure the United States has to have working legal system, a secure border, and interior enforcement.” MSNBC – January 30, 2014
  • “I just think when you know something isn’t working, you got to take it head on. That’s why I think the Speaker put these conservative principles out. And on the principles themselves, I think there were very few specific arguments against them.” MSNBC – January 30, 2014
  • “The principles from the House were helpful. It’s up to the House to decide what they want to do.” “If the House acts, we’ll see what happens.” The Hill – February 4, 2014
  • “I applaud Speaker Boehner and the GOP leadership team for proposing common sense principles the House Republican conference can agree on to reform our nation’s immigration system and strengthen security along our borders. The principles introduced today represent a positive step in the right direction. I am hopeful that the House will complete this work over the next few months. As Speaker Boehner has made clear, the House will move at its own pace and work through its own process, a prerogative I respect and support. I look forward to working with my colleagues at the appropriate time to move forward on this important issue.” McCain website – January 30, 2014
  • “They’re coming up with principles, and both parties are saying the right thing.” “This is the right time, and we hope that they seize the moment.”  Washington Post – January 24, 2014
  • “I am encouraged by the release of these principles, which hopefully will spark action in the House of Representatives to finally address our nation’s broken immigration system,” Bishop Elizondo said. USCCB – January 30, 2014

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL):

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ):

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL):

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

Carlos Gutierrez (former Secretary of Commerce):

Bishop Elizando (Chair of US Conference of Catholic Bishops):

About David Leopold
Past President American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), In-the-Trenches practicing immigration Attorney, Blogger, Activist, Photographer, Educator, World Traveler. All opinions are my own.

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