Immigration reform has not happened under President Obama because Democrats have wanted to keep immigration as a political wedge issue, according to pro-immigration reform Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL).
“The Democratic Party leadership has been very strong, has pressured the Democrats who are willing to talk to Republicans, demanding that they don’t do it because they don’t want this, they want it as a political issue to be used against Republicans. Particularly again, when it comes to the electoral college,” Díaz-Balart said in an interview Monday with Breitbart News, highlighting states that he believes will be more difficult for Republicans to win if they are seen as hostile to immigrants.
The Florida Republican recalled the promises Obama made before he was first elected, that he would accomplish immigration reform in his first year in office.
Despite having control of the House, Senate, and White House and a number of Republicans working with Democrats to complete an immigration reform bill in the House, Democrats did not move forward with immigration reform in Obama’s first term.
“Why did they refuse to move forward, even though they had committed to it?” Díaz-Balart asked. “Because, in my opinion they wanted it as a political issue. They wanted to be able to use it as a political issue for the president’s reelection campaign, and I might say it worked really well for them, because look at the numbers.”
This year, the six-term congressman spearheaded an effort to move immigration reform in the House — with legislation drafted that would have dealt with border and interior enforcement, as well as the illegal immigrant population. He was able to secure “yes”s from a number of Republicans; Politico sources pinned the number around at least 120.
According to Díaz-Balart, he will try to muster the effort again, but he will not yet say when.
“I’m going to see if there is the opportunity to do it and I’ll tell you why: Because it’s a very dangerous world and I don’t think we can — knowing that we do not control the borders, knowing that we don’t determine who comes in and out, knowing that we don’t even track people who come in legally when they leave, if they leave… knowing all that — I can’t in good conscious pretend that is not the case,” Díaz-Balart said.
He added that he believes it is “irresponsible” not to try to find out who and where the millions of illegal immigrants in the United States are and require them to come forward and register.
The Florida Republican further argued that President Obama has made getting immigration reform that much more difficult.
“What makes it a lot more difficult is having a president who frankly, you can’t trust, never keeps his word, is always saying things that are absolutely untruthful and that nobody believes. That makes it more difficult,” Díaz-Balart said, adding that he believes that his legislation would have been able to force the president to enforce the law and secure the borders and interior.
He added he does not know when or if there will be another good time to move again on immigration reform, because the issue is so emotionally charged.
“I don’t think there is ever going to be a good moment. I think hopefully there will be a moment when we can just have a serious conversation with the American people about how the current situation is — in my opinion — a threat to national security, it is in violation of the rule of law, it is unfair to people who are trying to do it things legally, trying to follow the law, it’s hurting our economy, so therefore I think it’s up to us as Republicans to come up with viable solution and I think we’ve come up with that. But there is never going to be a convenient time, so we’ll see,” Díaz-Balart said.