According to a Wall Street Journal report, Speaker John Boehner and certain key House Republicans recently told donors and special interest groups they still want to pass immigration legislation this year. President Obama continues his push for comprehensive amnesty today in a meeting he hopes will persuade the American Legion to drop their opposition to inclusion of the ENLIST Act in the defense authorization bill.
Boehner spoke at a March Las Vegas fundraiser attended by Sheldon Adelson and other top GOP donors, the Journal reports. Two attendees told the Journal that Boehner said he was "hellbent on getting [immigration reform] done this year." Boehner’s spokesperson didn't deny the story but said Obama must first prove he is a trustworthy partner in reform.
The Journal’s report also quotes Carl Guardino, head of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, who recently hosted a visit by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Guardino said Goodlatte was upbeat about the prospects for reform this year and suggested that votes may be held this summer on five to seven immigration bills. Goodlatte’s spokesperson did not comment on the matter.
And the Journal said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., is drafting legislation that would legalize illegal aliens and give them an opportunity to apply for citizenship through existing channels. GOP leaders reportedly told Diaz-Balart to ready his bill for possible debate in June or July.
House Republican leaders have been plotting an alternate means for reviving the immigration debate. They have backed Rep. Jeff Denham’s (R-Calif.) bid to get his ENLIST Act amnesty in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). If the NDAA passes the House with ENLIST, the Senate can use the measure to revive S. 744, the comprehensive amnesty bill.
The American Legion has joined a number of House Republicans in opposing the inclusion of ENLIST in the NDAA. John Stovall, director of the Legion’s national security division said, “The NDAA needs to stand alone, and I think attaching an issue as contentious and complex as immigration and recruitment policy would only stall the NDAA. Immigration policy needs to be debated on its own outside the debate of NDAA…The legion’s long-standing policy remains that we are opposed to any policy, any legislative action that amounts to amnesty, and I think that would fall under that definition.”
But that has not deterred President Obama, who is meeting today with Daniel Dellinger, the head of the American Legion, to try to persuade the organization to back down. Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Caller, That’s a big problem for Obama and the advocates of more immigration. If the American Legion is saying it is bad, they can either persuade them or bad-mouth the legion. I don’t think they be able to browbeat them.”