The immigration reform effort in the House is gaining traction and momentum, according to Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
In an interview with Roll Call published Wednesday, the Florida Republican said his bipartisan immigration reform effort is gaining Republican supporters and that believes the House will pass something before the August recess.
“Every day I’m getting more and more Republicans — conservatives — who are frankly approaching me saying, ‘How do we move forward?’ I feel very very confident that a majority — a strong majority — of Republicans want to finally tackle this system that everyone understands is broken — with some caveats,” he told CQ Roll Call. “Republicans are insisting that we take this step-by-step.”
Diaz-Balart has been an inveterate optimist on chances for legislative action on immigration since the issue gained currency following the 2012 elections. Still, with the Capitol abuzz with rumors about secretive immigration talks, his remarks are significant.
According to Diaz-Balart, he and others have not been deterred from their efforts by election year, anti-amnesty rhetoric from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and a recent revelation from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte that he is “not aware of any such decisions” to bring immigration reform to the floor before August recess.
“I’m giving up responding to things I hear out there. All I’ve been doing is systematically working, a number of us have been working, to see if we can draft legislation … to fix what everybody recognizes is broken,” Diaz-Balart said.
He added that the threats of unilateral action from the White House if Congress does not pass immigration reform before August are not helping the process and noted that “The president himself has said on multiple occasions that he does not have the legal authority.”
“When the administration says, ‘We’re temporarily going to halt something we’ve already said would be illegal for us to do anyway,’ you’re adding fuel to the fire. How helpful is that?” the Florida congressman asked.
Diaz-Balart added that should Obama move forward with immigration reform unilaterally it would simply reinforce House Republicans’ primary concern, that the president cannot be trusted.
“It would just prove, one more time, that this is a president you cannot trust. Which is one of the big obstacles we have with immigration reform,” he said.