Congressional Republicans must pass an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy if they ever hope to win the presidency again, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in an interview broadcast today on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Pelosi, a California Democrat, said she hopes Republicans who helped pass immigration legislation in the Senate last week can persuade their House colleagues to take up the issue. House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has said he won’t allow debate on an immigration bill unless it has the support of a majority of House Republicans.
“I believe that the members of Congress, many more than are directly affected themselves by the number of Hispanics in their district, will do what is right for our country,” Pelosi said in the interview. “And it’s certainly right -- for the Republicans, if they ever want to win a presidential race.”
President Barack Obama secured 71 percent of the U.S. Latino vote last year in his re-election victory over Republican Mitt Romney. Obama’s lopsided win with a fast-growing portion of the electorate spurred a renewed effort by Senate Republicans to overhaul immigration policy and create a path to legal residency for millions of undocumented residents from Latin America.
The Senate passed legislation on a 68-32 vote June 27 that creates a 13-year process for undocumented workers to obtain citizenship. The bill also dedicates $46 billion toward securing the U.S.-Mexican border, the costliest border security plan in history, a provision added to gain Republican support.
Interviewed on “Fox News Sunday,” Senators John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, both predicted House passage of the Senate’s bill.
The two senators cited support for the legislation from what Schumer called a “broad, deep coalition” of business, labor, Catholic and evangelical religious leaders.
“I have never seen such widespread support,” McCain said. The Republican party’s future is in jeopardy “if we don’t get this issue behind us,” he said.
Representative Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, said on Fox that the Senate bill won’t pass in the House.
“The issue is not the broad principles of immigration reform and humanity and the respect for the rule of law,” Gowdy said in an interview. “Where we get ourselves into a little difference of opinion are the details.”
Gowdy said he won’t back a bill that allows legalization of undocumented immigrants before the border is secure, and he won’t support a plan in which Janet Napolitano, Obama’s homeland security secretary, “gets to tell us when the border is secure.”
Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who leads the House Judiciary Committee, also said the Senate bill wouldn’t pass his chamber.
“The Senate bill gives legal status to 11 million people before it solves all the problems,” Goodlatte said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who heads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said on the CNN program that the House Republicans are relying on “discredited proposals” that will result in a stalemate with nothing passed.