South Florida Congressmen Clash on Who to Blame for Immigration Reform's Demise

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 12, 2014 3:55 AM
Mario Diaz-Balart and Joe Garcia

Mario Diaz-Balart and Joe Garcia

With news emerging that immigration reform is dead for 2014, two Hispanics from the South Florida delegation divided on party lines on who is to blame. 

While the “Gang of Eight,” including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., helped usher immigration reform through the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, the Republican-led U.S. House never passed it. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, refused to bring the measure to the floor as a majority of his caucus was not behind it.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a vocal proponent of immigration reform, was told by the House leadership on Thursday that the matter was done for the year. While he praised the help he got from the other side of the isle, the Florida Republican took shots at the Democratic leadership and President Barack Obama, saying they did little to advance the issue.

“From 2009 to 2010, I had been working with a group of bipartisan colleagues to draft immigration reform legislation. Unfortunately, Democratic leadership refused to consider the bill when they had the majority,” Diaz-Balart said. “During the last year and a half, I have been working nonstop with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to draft legislation that would obtain a majority of the Republicans and a number of the Democrats who are willing to put politics aside and get immigration reform done. In particular, I want to thank Luis Gutierrez for all his help, for his willingness, when necessary, to take on Republicans, Democrats, and the president.

“After lots of work and revisions, we finally drafted legislation that could garner the necessary bipartisan support. We learned our lessons from the 1986 amnesty bill and last year’s Senate bill, and did not repeat their mistakes,” Diaz-Balart said, before turning his fire toward Obama. “Due to the extraordinary lack of trust in this president, I worked to ensure that the legislation would independently verify and hold this and future presidents accountable for finally securing the borders. The bill is a common-sense solution to illegal immigration that recognizes we are not going to spend tens of billions of dollars to round up and deport millions of undocumented workers who have been here for many years. My solution would require those who came here illegally to earn legal status, earn their right to remain here, and demonstrate their commitment to the United States. It is an efficient and effective approach that is good for the American economy and fair to the people who came here legally.”

Diaz-Balart praised Boehner, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for their help but said Obama blocked progress on the issue because Republicans in Congress had learned not to trust him. The congressman also noted that when Democrats had control of both the Senate and the House under Obama, they did not press the matter.   

“This system is not going to fix itself, and delaying a common-sense solution is only going to make matters worse, as is evident by what is going on today with the crisis on the southern border,” Diaz-Balart insisted. “It is highly irresponsible not to deal with the issue. I know it is difficult, especially when you have a president that failed to build the trust of the American people or the U.S. Congress, and who has done little to enforce current law, despite his assertions to the contrary. But we were sent here by the American people precisely to tackle difficult issues and not to take the easy way out. By blocking reform, whether it was when Nancy Pelosi was speaker or now, we are in effect abdicating our duty. Particularly when we have a president that is willing to unilaterally act through executive action, that he himself has said is legally circumspect, will not provide a long-term solution to our immigration system, and I believe could even make it worse.

“I hope that in the near future, leadership will reconsider and allow my legislation to come to the floor. I, for one, am not willing to give up and will continue to work until we can finally fix a broken immigration system that everyone recognizes is dysfunctional,” Diaz-Balart said in conclusion. “I want to make it clear that I am ready to proceed at any time.”

But U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., fired back that Republicans were to blame for immigration reform stalling in the House.

“Speaker John Boehner and the leaders of the Republican Congress have delivered a slap in the face to the Hispanic community, to South Florida families and to thousands of Americans across our country who are demanding action on comprehensive immigration reform now,” Garcia said on Thursday. “They have stood in the way of comprehensive immigration reform for far too long. Enough is enough. We must continue to push forward and refuse to allow the dysfunctional, partisan politics of a few in Washington to stand in the way of what the American people have asked for and deserve – comprehensive immigration reform that reflects our nation’s diverse and vast human landscape.”

Garcia doubled down on that message on Friday when he urged supporters to petition Congress on the matter.

“The GOP leadership showed its true colors,” Garcia insisted. “The Hispanic community and anyone who supports the human rights of immigrants should be outraged by the GOP's inaction over the past two years.  

“In a poll out Wednesday, 80 percent of American voters said they want Congress to act on immigration reform this year,” Garcia added. “The people have been clear on this – the time to act is now. If Republican leadership isn't willing to listen to the vast majority of people, so they can appease their increasingly extreme base, it's time to replace them!”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (11)

Albert J. Shalhoub
1:19PM JUL 12TH 2014
I have read some of the other comments an I think most of the people in the United States do not trust the government, because they do lie, Lois Lerner is an example of what is going wrong with the government. Another is Eric Holder. President Obama The Inept who doesn't seem to beable to make a discision. It has been said that President Jimmy Carter can now rest easy, because he is no longer viewed as the worst President we have ever had.
Giving everyone what they want without having worked for it is bring our country down. We must wake up an stop the what is going on. THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH SOMEONE MUST PAY
11:52AM JUL 12TH 2014
Is there a Republican politician who does not blatantly lie and distort truth for the purpose of destroying the presidency of a black guy who had the audacity to run for president TWICE and get elected TWICE?
Diaz-Balart praised Boehner. Really? The Senate passed a bi-partisan bill last year but Boehner won’t bring it to the floor because the majority of HIS party doesn’t want it. Well whatever happened to majority rule? If the majority of the House supports a bill, isn’t it unethical to not bring it to the floor?
And what a silly excuse to blame Obama – because a minority of House Republicans don’t trust Obama and the rest of the wimps go along so they can hold to the seats. It is reported all over the news (except FOX) that Obama has deported a record number of Hispanic immigrants and that the boarders are better secured than ever under this administration.
The problem is the Republicans are so scared the new Hispanic immigrants will vote Democratic that they don’t want to give them citizenship. They want to keep them, numbering in the millions, as second-class citizens, while exploiting them in the workforce and elsewhere. Herein lies the difference between the Republicans and Democrats. Democrats believe in uplifting people, treating them equal, while Republicans believe in the masses being ruled by an elitist upper class – the 1%.
3:16PM JUL 12TH 2014
What's with pulling the race card Diane? It's not because President Obama is Black. In Fact he with his Mother being 199% White makes him more White than Black. You say the Borders are better secure, What? As long as illegals come across the border it's not secure. Maybe they should release these children in your neighborhood to run free and diseases. What about the children that are citizens in U.S.? They are going to be effected this fall when school starts and sitting next to them are many children that can't speak a word of English but know how to sell narcotics to other children. You can't possibly believe it's scared republicans of new Hispanic immigrants voting because of what? Go to Mexico and be their illegally and try to vote. Get your head out of the dirt and except the fact that if these people enter the U.S. legally and apply and earn citizenship they can vote and enjoy freedoms millions upon millions of other immigrants that followed the rule of law. Go put on your Mellisa Harris Tampx earrings and whine your lies else ware. The American citizens are tired of being lied to and made to feel like were wrong. Yes President Obama was elected twice, but that doesn't give him the right to violate our constitution like he has been according to the U.S. Supreme Court Justices 13 times.
9:39AM JUL 12TH 2014
Garcia - What poll says 80% want Congress to act on immigration reform this year?

I don't believe the American people trust this administration to do immigration reform correctly. The American people want to see the border secured before any other deals are made.

I did see a poll from the daily caller that says 59% of Voters Blame Obama For Border Surge, and a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 82% of American Adults think it is important to secure the border to prevent future illegal immigration, with 60% who say it is Very Important. This is up slightly from 78% and 57% respectively in April of last year.

According to Gallup polls Americans' approval of President Barack Obama's handling of immigration has dropped considerably in the past year and currently stands at 31% and a new Gallup polling finds fewer than one in four Americans favor increased immigration.

So GARICA, RUBIO ect...SECURE our BORDERS and send those who are breaking our immigrations laws home along with putting a stop to expanding visas for skilled immigrants that take the jobs from our 20+ million unemployed!
12:00PM JUL 12TH 2014
If Americans don't trust this administration to do immigration reform it is because of the lies and misinformation put out by corrupted Republicans and profiteering pundits. I would not accept any polling by the right-wing Daily Caller and the right leaning Rasmussen without substantiation. But the results of all polls are based on the questions asked. Sure, Obama may have a low polling for issues like "Do you think Obama has property handled undocumented immigrants?" because many Hispanics are not happy with the high number of deportations under Obama.
7:51AM JUL 12TH 2014
First we need to seal the Southern Border while enforcing the laws already on the books. Why reform when the laws on immigration were reformed after the last amnesty? All the reform means nothing if those reformed laws are not enforced. What a waste of time and money. Take that money and clean up inner cities and the gangs. Time to clean our own back yards before we can help other countries clean up theirs. Over the 4th of July 83 shot and 14 deaths from South Chicago, no one is even talking about Detroit. Seal the Southern Border and quit allowing those wanting open borders trying to influence us what was and is not our doing. The U.S. is being invaded from terrorist Central American countries. Be ready, this is only the beginning.
12:19PM JUL 12TH 2014
Right, those child terrorists. The worst of all. They try to make you think they are helpless in fighting violence in their home countries and just want to escape here so they can live, when all the while their intent is to subvert our democracy. Kind of like those people of other nationalities who are given refuge to escape harm.
9:22AM JUL 12TH 2014
Yes, yes, you must be right . . . . Central American countries are all terrorists . . . . . Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize and the like . . . . all terrorists . . . . are you really that delusional? . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
11:24AM JUL 12TH 2014
Frank, I really hate the thought of abortion, then you show up and my thoughts are what a shame your mother didn't have access to the morning after pill when you were conceived.
9:17AM JUL 14TH 2014
The rightwing . . . personal hatred personified . . . . proving my point . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
7:25AM JUL 12TH 2014
Diaz-Blowhard seems to be very confused, serving in Washington and should probably be brought home to convalesce while Gracia needs to continue his work, such as it is.
Blowhard's party is clearly the one blocking any progress with immigration reform. This is true considering his own words saying they (repblcns) would block any effort to reform this, and any other worthwhile program. He faulys the tea party for such a stance so the message is clear to both Republicans and Democrats. This mid-term election calls for replacing ALL seated politicos. THAT should change the attitudes of those remaining, remembering we are the boss!

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