To be fair, immigration reform really lies in the hands of the 135 House Representatives whose votes remain unpredicted at this point. As of right now, a total of about 191 members will very likely vote to pass the comprehensive immigration legislation this year. That means a little more than 100 representatives are likely to vote against the legislation, leaving the odds in favor of passage, at 218 votes.
These odds don't necessarily mean immigration reform is likely to pass, however. The predicted numbers have little to say about the traction party leaders are desperately trying to attain. On one hand, about 13 of the unknown votes are Democratic, leaving an opportunity for other strongly pro-immigration Dems like Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) to persuade fellow party members. On the other, that won't be enough. Pro-immigration Republicans like Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) will have to coax representatives from their own party as well.
And, not to be forgotten, all this convincing by the reformers is matched equally by a loud, select few, congresspeople on the opposition. Here are five representatives who are molding the argument against immigration reform.
1. Speaker John Boehner
District Ethnicity: 90.4% White, 6.4% Black, 1.2% Asian, 1.3% Hispanic, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% Other
Importance: As Speaker of the House, he owns the decision to bring immigration legislation to the House floor for a vote. And, in case his stance on the matter is unclear, he summed it up quite nicely in his response following the Senate's passage of its immigration bill —"Apparently some haven't gotten the message: the House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes."
2. Rep. Trey Gowdy
District: S.C.- 4th
Population: 668, 668
District's Ethnicity: 76.2% White, 19.8% Black, 1.4% Asian, 3.2% Hispanic, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% other
Importance: Gowdy is an outspoken immigration hardliner — he's proved his clout by his introduction of an immigration bill concerning unlawful presence of immigrants in the country. It'd be almost inconceivable to see him supporting any type of legislation approved by the Senate.
3. Rep. Raul Labrador
District: Ida.- 1st
Population: 648, 744
District's Ethnicity: 91.6% White, 0.3% Black, 1.4% Asian, 6.8% Hispanic, 0.9% Native American, 0.2% other
Importance: To start, Labrador represents half of Idaho because there are only two districts in the state. Furthermore, he's an unconvincing once-proponent for immigration reform. His hardline stance against a path to citizenship is bad news for comprehensive legislation-backers.
4. Rep. Steve King
District: Iowa- 4th
Population: 585, 305
District's Ethnicity: 95.8% White, 0.8% Black, 1.1% Asian, 2.5% Hispanic, 0.2% Native American
Importance: He wants attention, and he can usually get it. He has a history of making controversial statementshistory of controversial statements, once specifically about immigrants, saying, "for everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." King is definitely one of the shrillest opponents of reform out there.
5. Rep. Bob Goodlatte
District: Va.- 6th
District's Ethnicity: 85.9% White, 11.0% Black, 1.0% Asian, 2.0% Hispanic, 0.2% Native American
Importance: Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He's a leading figure for representatives who strongly oppose a pathway to citizenship, essentially rejecting the Senate proposal, no questions asked.