Less than a week after White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told Newsmax that the administration was "open to the idea" of individual pieces of legislation to deal with immigration — as most House Republicans favor — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said he isn't buying the overture.
"I've seen those remarks," the Virginia Republican told Newsmax on Thursday morning. "And the facts of the past year belie the circumstances we see today."
Speaking at the Christian Science Monitor press breakfast, where Jarrett said on June 20 that the president was "not wedded to" the "comprehensive" reform package passed by the Senate, Goodlatte said in reply to a question from Newsmax that "if the administration was serious, it would not take the law into its own hands. It would acknowledge that [illegal immigration] was a serious law enforcement issue and aggressively seek change."
Goodlatte underscored the view supported by most of his GOP colleagues that border security must be established firmly before any of the related issues involved in immigration reform are addressed by the House.
In her statement to Newsmax, Jarrett had said the administration would not look kindly upon House enactment of single pieces of legislation that deal with "border security only or high-tech immigration only" without a companion bill "that focuses on a path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants who are already in the United States.
In striking contrast to Jarrett, Goodlatte said that the first thing that needs to be done in dealing with the immigration issue is "an agreement that [current] laws need to be enforced." Addressing issues such as "mandatory verification [of citizenship] for employees" and "biometric entry or exit" by guest workers will "lead to the legal reforms we need."
Once the issue of legal immigration was addressed, he said, "the debate would include figuring out what to do with people who are already here illegally."
Goodlatte also called on the president to "put it to the governments of Mexico and Central America strongly" not to permit "people to pose as political asylum" seekers when they come to the border seeking entry into the United States.
"I do not see the president enforcing the present laws, so I don't see him enforcing laws that will be passed in the future," he said. "He needs to be faithfully executing the laws on the books and not trying to rewrite the laws with his pen and his cellphone."
Goodlatte cited statements from Obama calling on Congress to act by August, "and if you don't act by August, I'll use my pen and phone," and said: "This does not lend itself to a step-by-step approach."
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