Comprehensive immigration reform advocate Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) seemed to admit that immigration reform legislation will not pass the House this year, telling Bloomberg News on Friday that he only expected passage of a “comprehensive” bill “within the next 9 to 12 months.
“Within the next 9 to 12 months, I believe, yes, that you’ll get a bill that has serious border security, more serious and less expensive than the Senate’s version, and that also has future flows,” Norquist said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Al Hunt to air at 9 p.m. EDT Friday evening on Bloomberg TV’s Political Capital with Al Hunt.
A month ago, Norquist was predicting confidently that immigration reform would pass in 2013. “It’s completely doable. It doesn’t take a lot of time,” he told Newsmax “This is the year to vote.”
Norquist’s new timeline could represent a significant concession by proponents of immigration reform that their efforts have run into strong opposition over the past several weeks.
Last month, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) had told constituents in Wisconsin that House votes on several smaller immigration bills were likely in October. Those bills would likely proceed to a conference committee with the Senate, though conservatives have vowed to oppose that procedural move.
On Friday, House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) indicated his opposition to any bill that granted amnesty to illegal aliens, and said that the border should be determined to be secure before any bill passed that would legalize the status of “individuals that were brought to the United States” as minor children.
Norquist, who received praise from Democrats like Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, still believes that the eventual bill will “have an expansion of what the Senate agreed to and that we’ll have some legal status and a pathway to citizenship for the 10 million or 11 million who’ve come in over the years,” he told Bloomberg News.
“At the end of the day, yes, because there are going to be many moving parts in this legislation, a lot of which conservatives can be very, very happy with. And I think at the end of the day that the pathway to citizenship that we’re talking about for people who came here without papers is 10 to 15 years from now. This is not tomorrow.”
When asked what he thinks the “consequences” for the GOP if they stop amnesty are, Norquist argued that “there are several challenges.”
“One is, the business community very much needs more high-tech workers,” he said. ‘The academic community, universities would like people able to come here, study engineering, and then get a green card to stay. It brings more of the talent in the world to study in American universities. I think it would be unwise for the modern Republican Party to come across as hostile to immigration. That has been the losing position in American history for 200 years.
“When we talk about America being built by immigrants, it’s not just something we say. It’s true. It’s who the country is. It’s what the country–it’s why we’re the future and Japan and China are not. We do immigration well. Despite all the whining, we do it well. Japan doesn’t do immigration well. China doesn’t. Europe doesn’t.”
Joel B. Pollak contributed to this report.