Kathy Castor doesn't see Republicans moving on comprehensive immigration reform for years

Politico is reporting that House Democrats intend to target 30 House Republicans over the next couple of weeks who have expressed previous support for some sort of immigration reform. It's considered a last-ditch effort to force the GOP to act on the Senate's bipartisan comprehensive bill that passed last summer. Among those 30 Republicans, three are from Florida: Daniel Webster, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. 

But one House Democrat isn't very optimistic that it will go anywhere.

"Immigration reform has hit a brick wall in the House of Representatives," says Tampa-area Congresswoman Kathy Castor."There's no dialogue. There's lots of talk, but only in a 'let's do this in a piecemeal fashion, let's look at reform,' there's no action whatsoever. It's simply lip service."

Polk/Hillsborough Congressman Dennis Ross is one of those House Republicans. At a town hall meeting in Tampa last month, Ross repeated his previous comments that he thinks immigration legislation can be passed this year, but only in a strictly piecemeal way. That includes supporting H-1B visas for highly educated students, a guest worker program, and a pathway to citizenship for DREAM Act candidates — undocumented citizens who came to the U.S. with their parents. But he does not support a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented.

Recently elected Pinellas County GOP Representative David Jolly echoes Ross' comments when it comes to immigration reform, saying that he supports legal immigration but that the concern is on "the cost of resources that are being expended on those who have broken the law."

Castor calls the comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate last year "pretty rare in this day and age," and says it would be "so meaningful" for Florida in so many respects — agriculture, tourism, college graduates who can't get a job here because of their undocumented status — if the House could support the Senate bill.

There has been some informed speculation that while immigration reform is D.O.A. in the halls of the House this year, it might have life in 2015, as Republicans accept that they have to show some indication that they want the Hispanic vote in the 2016 presidential election. But Castor does not share that belief.

“I do not anticipate with the current makeup in the US Congress that there will be any movement on immigration, unfortunately. Until the voters send a message, and it’s probably re-electing a Democratic president again in 2016, where they realize they're going to continue to shrink as a representative party."


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