House Speaker John Boehner told his Republican colleagues in a closed door meeting Wednesday that the issue of immigration isn’t going to disappear. He said a working group of Congressional members is putting together a set of “principles” to guide an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.
It’s an informal group of GOP lawmakers with an interest in immigration, including Central Valley Congressman Jeff Denham. The Republican from Turlock said he won’t discuss details until the group formally releases its list of principles. But he ticks of a general list of immigration “must do's” — securing the border, "making sure we have internal security, and ultimately following a rule of law and an issue of fairness."
Is citizenship on that list of things? Denham said it's important to discuss all aspects of immigration: "If we're going to have legal permanent residence for some, we need to be also discussing a path to citizenship."
Denham declined to name other members of the working group, but says they’ll meet again later this week. Denham said nearly two dozen GOP lawmakers stayed after the Speaker's meeting to continue the reform discussion. He admitted it's not the "majority of the majority" the Speaker promises he needs to bring a bill to the floor, but getting 20 lawmakers to talk about immigration is "moving the ball forward."
Denham is one of two GOP House Californians who've signed on as co-sponsors of the Democrats' immigration bill. The other is Hanford Republican David Valadao. His office says Valadao is working with the Speaker "as a resource on immigration reform," but is not part of any "formal" group of members.
Boehner recently hired Rebecca Tallent, who is charged with setting the stage for immigration reform. She was chief of staff for Republican Senator John McCain when he was pushing reform in 2006-07. Most recently, she served as director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
House Republicans are expected to continue the immigration debate when members gather for their annual retreat later this month.