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What Will House Immigration Approach Mean For Votes?

This morning the California Democratic congressman Mark Takano, who also happens to be a former high school teacher, tweeted out a missive aimed at his colleagues across the aisle.



Attached to the tweet was what appears to be a letter written by House Republicans to the Speaker voicing their opposition to the Senate's approach of a comprehensive bill to address immigration reform. Takano, relying on his teacher red pen, had marked it up with snarky comments in impeccable penmanship.

"The assignment was to address what should be done about the 11 million people already here. Did you purposefully leave this out?"  Takano comments at the end, along with a letter grade of "F" at the top and "See me after votes."

This annotated letter symbolizes just how polarized the question of immigration reform is in the House of Representatives.

House Republicans made clear in meetings yesterday they opposed a sweeping comprehensive bill, and would instead work on a piecemeal approach. They also indicated none of those pieces would be a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. 

But if Republicans are seen as derailing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally, and instead opt for an enforcement only approach, how will this play out for the 15 Republican congressmen in Takano's home state of California?

While many Republican congressmen are likely concerned about facing a challenge from the right in future elections, in today's Los Angeles Times, Harry Meyerson of The American Prospect suggests the exception to that dynamic is the Golden State. 

According to Meyerson, the demographic data suggests many California Republicans represent constituents who are likely to support comprehensive immigration reform. Nine of the Republican controlled congressional districts in California are at least one-third Latino, and seven districts have a white population that is below 50 percent. Meyerson writes:

In other words, for at least half if not more of California's Republican House members, a vote against citizenship for those who are in the country illegally, or the Republican caucus' refusal to let such a vote be taken, is politically suicidal — if not in 2014, then by the decade's end.

But not all pro-immigrant voices are in agreement about how exactly the House should proceed on the immigration issue, either. 

After all, it’s not just Republicans who have deep concerns with the comprehensive bill the Senate passed, which reflected a compromise between border security and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

Some immigration reform advocates and House Democrats oppose that bill’s border surge amendement that would further militarize the border and double border patrol numbers. 

Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville, Texas, resigned from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus out of frustration that other caucus members were supporting that compromise. 

"Opponents of serious immigration reform are extracting a pound of flesh in this process by conditioning a pathway to citizenship on the construction of more ineffective border fence,” Vela wrote in a statement last week.

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.