Supporters of immigration reform see a glimmer of hope that an immigration bill could clear the House of Representatives next spring.
Immigration reform legislation, which cleared the Senate earlier this year, has stalled in the House because of Republican resistance. Supporters see three potentially encouraging new signs:
- House Speaker John Boehner's willingness to criticize his party's right-wing base last week on the budget measure raises the possibility he could do likewise on immigration.
- The speaker also recently hired Rebecca Tallent, a top policy adviser who previously worked for Arizona Senator John McCain, a staunch advocate of immigration reform.
- Representative Paul Ryan, having settled the budget issue for the foreseeable future, will be freed up to focus on immigration. The Wisconsin Republican has been working on a compromise that would provide legalization and the possibility of citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants.
House Republicans have separately, on partisan votes, cleared four bills but haven't brought them up for floor action due to fear they wouldn't pass. Most House Democrats oppose any piecemeal approach, arguing the legislation should be combined in a comprehensive bill. In addition to Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has privately been working on a measure that would give citizenship to the so-called Dreamers -- unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
There still is considerable resistance among many House Republicans and any compromise remains an uphill battle.
(Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)