The prospect of comprehensive reform of the nation's immigration system anytime soon is dwindling. Back in June when the Senate valiantly banded together across party lines to vote 68-32 for an overhaul of the immigration system, it seemed that Congress might finally deal with an issue that, for decades, has been a source of great hardship for families and communities across the country. And despite threats from House Speaker John Boehner, a bipartisan "Gang of Seven" charged with moving the bill forward seemed to be making real progress.
But that was two months ago. And this week, in an interview with the Washington Post, Democratic Representative Luis Gutiérrez, a member of the "Gang," conceded that "the process is stalled … It's just not going to happen now." While the halt in the reform process is clear, we're all left wondering why.
The energy and momentum behind reform efforts have seemingly faded from the public conscience, media attention, and Congress' to-do list. With only 30 scheduled official working days left after this month, the chances of Congress passing any substantial legislation appear very slim. Gutiérrez even admitted "I don't believe we're going to produce a bill anytime soon." Of course, the sudden need to respond to Syria's use of chemical weapons, as well as the ongoing budget showdown, have taken up the bulk of Congress' time as of late.
Is it fair to say that the inaction on the part of Congress is simply due to these time-sensitive issues?
In between the Senate's passage and the confirmation that Assad used chemical weapons in Syria, the House had two full months of inaction on immigration reform. Despite the fact that the GOP needs Latino support, despite concessions from the president, and despite — as Gutiérrez noted in his interview — the Gang of Seven's agreement on "virtually everything," key Republican legislators continue to stand in the way of reform. Regardless of the content of immigration reform, many House Republicans seem unwilling to do anything that appears to be siding with the Democratic Party. As we (already) approach another election cycle, it is apparent that many Republicans do not want to get involved in an issue as politically sensitive as immigration reform.
Workers are being taken advantage of. Kids are missing a chance to attend college. Families are being torn apart. Entire communities have been devastated by our nation's current immigration system, which most agree is broken and needs reform. Will House Republicans continue to stand in the way of progress?