By Elise Foley on 12/10/13
WASHINGTON -- Reps. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) singled out in a letter on Monday eight of the House Republicans who are most opposed to comprehensive immigration reform, asking them to discuss their views as "prominent and important leader[s] on the issue" for their party.
The targets range from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who once compared undocumented young people to drug smugglers, to Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who once said he would do "anything short of shooting" undocumented immigrants. The others on the list are Reps. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), John Fleming (R-La.), Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
None of them are expected to do much to help push comprehensive immigration reform through the House; in fact, some have vowed to do whatever they can to stop it. Garcia and Polis have been critical of House Republicans, including those issued the letter, on immigration. But they still asked that the Republicans join a "special order" discussion with fellow members on Wednesday.
"We know that in the past you have never shied away from airing your strongly held beliefs about our nation's immigration system and the millions of Hispanic, Asian, and other undocumented immigrants who live in this country," Garcia and Polis wrote in the letter, which was provided to The Huffington Post. "While we certainly do not agree with your views, we appreciate your willingness -- unlike many of your Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives -- to directly engage in the important debate about the future of our nation's immigration system."
The letter reads like a not-so-veiled jab at the House GOP, particularly by describing the eight members as part of a small group who are willing to discuss immigration reform -- and therefore implying the rest of the conference, including those who say they are more receptive to reform, are not.
The House is set to recess for the holidays at the end of this week without a vote on immigration reform that supporters hoped to see this calendar year. While Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the issue is not dead, he has declined to hold votes on existing immigration legislation or lay out specific policies the House GOP would be willing to support, instead giving a general call for a "step by step" approach.
House Democrats, with Garcia as a lead sponsor, introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill in October and have support from most of their caucus and three Republicans. They have called for Boehner to hold a vote on the bill, but so far to no avail.
Garcia and Polis sent a separate letter to House members asking them to join the discussion on Wednesday as well.
"While there are a broad range of views on how best to reform our broken immigration system, we believe that it is possible for us to find common ground through a bipartisan discussion that includes a diverse range of perspectives," they wrote in that letter, also provided to HuffPost. "In this brief discussion, we hope to reinvigorate a bipartisan dialogue on an issue that is vitally important to our economy, our security, and our country."
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