Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) appeared to reject both immigration reform bills up for a vote in the House Wednesday, citing provisions that provide amnesty for illegal aliens.
“I will not support legislation offering amnesty to those who have entered our country illegally,” Gaetz said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting legislation to enhance our border security, including the construction of a border wall, and to strengthen our immigration laws.”
Still, Gaetz, a first-term congressman who has positioned himself as a staunch immigration hawk, found some provisions in the two bills. The more conservative bill is being spearheaded by House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and the “compromise bill” is led by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Both bills, according to Gaetz’s statement, “take steps” to address the fact that “America’s immigration laws are convoluted, poorly enforced, and full of loopholes.”
Gaetz’s announcement came hours after President Donald Trump unveiled his executive order reaffirming Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” guidance for border prosecutions while aiming to keep apprehended families of illegal aliens together.
“President Trump’s executive order allows families to be kept together while adults are processed through immigration courts for unlawful entry into the United States,” Gaetz writes, continuing:
While this is a humane decision, the title of the President’s EO is extremely revealing: Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation. This title is correct: it our duty in Congress to reform our broken immigration system, and it is dismaying that—despite immigration reform being a key platform of President Trump’s campaign—we have not yet delivered the meaningful reform the American people want and need.
“[President Trump] did not cause this problem; Congress did—now it is up to us to solve it,” Gaetz states. “Separating families is a sad consequence of decades of bad immigration policy, and I look forward to voting to restore law and order to America’s southern border. Unchecked illegal immigration cannot and must not be allowed to continue.”
The fate of both bills in the House remained unclear Thursday, but the buzz on the Hill indicates there are not enough votes to pass the Goodlatte bill. The Ryan bill appears to remain viable in the House but faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where President Trump has indicated he believes Democrats will prevent its passage.
Trump himself neglected to mention Ryan’s bill at his Wednesday night rally in Duluth, Minnesota, raising questions about his own support for the legislation, which includes both a wide-reaching amnesty and some amount of funding for the wall at the southern border. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway added to this impression Wednesday, telling Breitbart News, “The president did not make [it] clear one way or the other yesterday [which bill he supports] — and for a reason.”