On Wednesday, Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) became the third House Republican to support an immigration reform bill introduced by Democrats, helping to build momentum for a vote by the end of the congressional year. Valadao’s support follows two other House Republicans, Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) both of whom said earlier this week that they would support the bill as cosponsors.
“I have been working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on the issue of immigration reform. Recently, I have focused my efforts on joining with like-minded Republicans in organizing and demonstrating to Republican Leadership broad support within the Party to address immigration reform in the House by the end of the year,” stated Congressman Valadao in a press release. “By supporting H.R. 15 I am strengthening my message: Addressing immigration reform in the House cannot wait. I am serious about making real progress and will remain committed to doing whatever it takes to repair our broken immigration system.”
Based on his history of immigrant-friendly policies, Valadao’s support may not necessarily be surprising. Latinos comprise 65.8 percent of the voter age population in his district. More than 75 percent of all Latino voters believe that immigration reform is incredibly important and a top priority.
In early June, Valadao supported the basic framework of the Senate immigration bill. He was also only one of six House Republicans to vote against an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that would give immigration authorities wider discretion to deport undocumented immigrants. At the time Valadao said, “That King amendment, I just didn’t think it was good policy.”
Supporting immigration reform could provide a massive economic boost to Valadao’s state of California– according to a White House report, reform would increase the total personal income of California families by $29.1 billion by 2020. Immigration reform would help to expand the guest worker program in his agriculture-heavy district, which would likely create 9,426 new jobs for U.S. citizens and immigrants in the agriculture, retail trade, and construction sector.
Like Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) who introduced the House Democrats’ bill, Valadao may have a personal reason for supporting immigration reform. His parents are Portuguese immigrants and he is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.
Valadao’s public support lends additional bipartisanship to what had been a strictly Democratic bill up until a week ago. And it’s something that Denham– the first House Republican to support the immigration bill– hoped to break during a Google Hangout interview with Garcia on Wednesday.
During the Google Hangout, Denham said, “I believe it’s critical to get it done this year. If we don’t get it done, we’ll have to deal with Continuing Resolution issues, like the budget. These are issues that have deadlines. The challenge for immigration is that there is no real deadline so we need to create self-imposed deadlines. We really have to increase the pressure and the focus… ultimately, just saying no, that’s amnesty.”