There is no uprising of support for immigration reform in the House
House Republicans aren’t feeling pressure to tackle comprehensive immigration reform — not from the Senate, not from the business and religious communities and not from the many GOP-aligned groups backing the effort.Another thing that is hurting the proponents of immigration reform is the argument that it will help Republicans to add Democrat voters through a path to citizenship. The polling suggest that it would not help any GOP candidate garner more Hispanic votes in a Presidential election. Not even Marco Rubio would get more Hispanic votes and in the process of pushing this legislation he has lost a large number of conservative supporters.
From Karl Rove to Jeb Bush to Grover Norquist, an array of Republican heavyweights have called on the House GOP to embrace immigration reform.
Yet the response from many House conservatives has been little more than a shrug.
“The economy is still the main issue,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. He cited healthcare as another more pressing national priority than immigration.
Like many in the House GOP, Scalise wants to strengthen border security and fix the broken parts of the immigration system, but he and other Republicans see few incentives in agreeing to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants despite warnings of demographic doom for the GOP in national elections if the party doesn’t improve its standing with Hispanic voters.
Indeed, many rank-and-file Republicans see danger in voting for a bill that could hurt them in districts that in most cases are dominated by conservative white voters.
“I don’t really feel the public is up in arms right now,” said one House Republican leadership aide, echoing a sentiment expressed by several GOP lawmakers in recent weeks.
An obstacle for the immigration push has been a growing divide between senior members of the Republican establishment like Rove, Bush and Norquist, who believe a solution is necessary to make the party viable in the 2016 presidential election; and House lawmakers who have few Hispanic voters in their districts and are more vulnerable to Tea Party-backed challenges.
The conservative bent of some House districts has made the element of immigration reform that Democrats consider most essential — a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants — a difficult if not impossible lift for many lawmakers.