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California Democrat to reintroduce immigration reform bill in Republican House

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Despite a historic Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in this week’s midterm elections, Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) plans to maintain pressure on the new majority to reform the nation’s immigration policy.    

     “With Republicans now the majority in the House of Representatives, many policies will probably change radically. What must not change, however, is work on immigration reform” Honda said in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed that he co-authored with current NFL player Scott Fujita.Rep.

Honda will reintroduce the Reuniting Families Act in the 112th session of Congress, which allows immigrant families to be reunited with other family members in the United States via an expedited legalization process. Despite some immigrant families having broken the law by entering the country illegally, Honda’s legislation maintains that these immigrant families have played by the rules and that they are unfairly subject to what he calls a 20 year old outdated immigration policy.

Immigration policy has always been a touchy issue for the Republican Party as it has given Democrats an upper hand in winning the Hispanic vote, but there is yet another issue in the Congressman’s bill that will also likely have socially conservative Republicans shying away from it. Included is language allowing the reuniting of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender permanent partners that are immigrants. Honda touts that the benefit of his policy is that it brings together family communities, regardless of orientation for the benefit of the country.    

     “American workers with their families by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed than those living apart from loved ones for years on end. By pooling resources, families can do together what they can’t do alone- start family businesses, create American jobs and contribute more to this country’s welfare” he wrote.

At this point in the game, with Republicans now having extensive power to control the legislative agenda, the party shows no sign of compromising in the direction of their Democratic colleagues on this issue.  Likewise, Honda and fellow Democrats show no sign of compromising or moderating on the issue over the course of the next two years. While they may not get very far in accomplishing their legislative goals in their roles as the minority party in Washington, Democrats seem to be solidifying their voter base for future elections on the immigration issue.  Even before jumping ahead to 2012, Democrats appealing to their base on immigration may have been crucial in saving the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In his efforts to pull in the Hispanic vote, helped by opponent Sharon Angle’s Asian-Hispanic gaffe, Reid pulled in over 60 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Despite all the gridlock that’s bound to continue over immigration when the issue arises, it will be an important issue with the voters that helped drive the Republican revolution of 2010. However, it won’t be the primary issue. The whole “Fire Pelosi” campaign instituted by the Republican National Committee was over Congress aiding and abetting what Republicans viewed as Obama’s job-killing agenda. Just as soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner led the cries of “Where are the jobs?,” so will voters ask the same of the new Republicans in Congress and evaluate the party’s response by 2012.

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