A push for action on immigration reform is growing in the House, says U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, despite election-year Republican rhetoric, as well as what he considers misguided threats of independent action by President Barack Obama.
The Miami Republican, leading the effort in Washington D.C. to produce bipartisan immigration reform, told CQ Roll Call last week there are more supporters now than last month.
Diaz-Balart also expects the GOP-controlled House to act on immigration 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?’” Diaz-Balart told reporters in a recent phone interview with Roll Call.
“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 added. “Republicans are insisting that we take this step-by-step.”
Obama’s attempts to facilitate the progression of immigration reform in the House are not helping. One move is that the Pentagon, at the urging of the White House, will put on hold a plan to provide legal status to illegal immigrants enlisting in the military.
The president vows to take more across-the-board action on immigration if Congress refuses to act, but has delayed the Pentagon proposal to give Republicans in Congress more time to produce a solution through legislation.
“The president himself has said on multiple occasions that he does not have the legal authority,” to take many of the unilateral actions called for by those calling for immigration reform, Diaz-Balart said.
“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?”
“It would just prove,” he added, “one more time, that this is a president you cannot trust. Which is one of the big obstacles we have with immigration reform.”
“Sometimes, this administration just leaves me speechless.”