On Tuesday, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) became the second House Republican to cosponsor an immigration reform bill that was introduced by House Democrats in early October. Although House leaders have expressed disinterest in bringing any bill that does not have the majority support of House Republicans, Ros-Lehtinen’s public support could pressure other moderate House Republicans to sign on to the House Democrat’s immigration bill which already has 185 supporters.
Only three days earlier, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) became the first House Republican to support the House Democrat’s immigration bill.
“It’s important to keep the conversation going in trying to fix the broken immigration system,” Ros- Lehtinen said in a statement. “I favor any approach that will help us move the negotiations forward. Other Members may soon produce a bipartisan product that may also deserve support and I’m cautiously optimistic that we can pass meaningful immigration reform.”
The House Democrat’s immigration bill is modeled after the bipartisan Senate immigration bill and a House Republican-approved border security measure.
Ros-Lehtinen has long supported immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Yet in June, she said that the Senate immigration bill was “not going to move in the House.” At a massive immigration reform rally held on the National Mall that resulted in the arrest of eight House Democrats in early October, she told thousands of immigrant activists, “We’ve heard a lot of lip service and a lot of promises. Both political parties have had a chance to solve it. Neither have. It’s about time we get it done this year.”
A new ABC and Fusion poll released this week finds that 51 percent of all Americans support legal status for undocumented immigrants. But the support is split along partisan and ideological lines: 77 percent of liberal Democrats support legal status whereas only 32 percent of conservative Republicans feel the same. Only 43 percent of whites support legal status while support among non-whites skyrocket to 70 percent. Finally, 61 percent of Americans under the age of 40 support legal status, while 47 percent of Americans over the age of 40 feel the same.
Ros-Lehtinen’s home state of Florida stands to gain a huge economic boost if immigration reform is passed. Florida’s economy would see an immediate boost by $1.8 billion and the creation of 22,032 jobs within one year of implementation. All Florida families would see an increase to total personal income by $6.5 billion in 2020.
Meanwhile, another Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), has fumbled in recent days by disowning his own immigration reform bill.