Gowdy: 'More Interested in Getting It Right' Than Following Senate on Immigration

By Susan Jones | July 1, 2013 | 5:54am EDT

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) says the House will not pass the Senate immigration bill, as some Democrats have suggested. (AP File photo) not

(CNSNews.com) - Joking that he was "moved almost to the point of tears by Sen. (Chuck) Schumer's concern for the future prospects of the Republican Party," Rep. Trey Gowdy said on Sunday the immigration bill passed by the Senate is dead on arrival in the House:

"The Senate bill is not going to pass in the House. It's not going to pass for myriad reasons," Gowdy told "Fox News Sunday."

"I'll support immigration reform. I think the current system is broken. But our framers gave us two legislative bodies. And I assume they did it for a reason. And the House runs every two years with the theory being that we will be closer to the will of the people."

Gowdy noted that the House has passed four separate bills addressing different facets of the immigration issue, such as enforcement.

"So, we are making progress and we will continue to do so. I'm more interested in getting it right than doing it on Senator Schumer's schedule," Gowdy said.

Schumer told "Fox News Sunday" he thinks the House will pass the Senate immigration bill by the end of the year, partly because if they don't, Republicans will be the minority party for many years; and partly because "the bishops, the evangelicals and business leaders" want immigration reform.

"And, finally, and very importantly as well, we're not going to let this issue go away," Schumer said. "The strong supporters of immigration are going to be at the town hall meetings of Republican congressmen. They're going to be visiting them in their offices. They're going to be traipsing in the halls of Congress. We have seen the power of the DREAM Act kids."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has promised to pass a House immigraton bill through regular order -- sending it through committee before a floor vote. "And it will be legislation that reflects the will of our (Republican) majority and the will of the American people," Boehner said.

But Gowdy said the difficulty with the Senate bill lies in its details:

"I cannot sell in South Carolina a border security plan where the security comes after the legalization. I can't sell a border security plan where Janet Napolitano gets to tell us the border is secure. I can't sell a border security plan where the executive can turn on and off triggers for political expedient reasons. Nor would I try to sell any of those plans.

"So, you can agree in theory on border security but disagree very strongly on how it's achieved."

Pressed on why he insists on border security before legal status, Gowdy cited trust in government:

"There is a diminution of trust among our fellow citizens. And the notion that I can tell them, we're going to provide legalization but trust us on the border security, trust us on the internal security, trust us on E-Verify, that's not going to fly in South Carolina. I doubt it's going to fly in Arizona or New York."

Putting security in place shows respect for the rule of law, Gowdy said. "I'm fine with showing humanity. But the order in which it's done is important," he added.

Gowdy also noted that the estimated 11 million people who are in the U.S. illegally are not a homogenous group: Some don't want to become American citizens, he said, and some couldn't pass a background check.

"All of the 11 million are not similarly situated," Gowdy said. "You would agree with me you should have a different level of scrutiny for a child who's been here for 10 years and was brought through no will or no action of his or her own, as opposed to a 30-year-old who's been here for three weeks. You would not want the same scrutiny or the same level of analysis for those two groups.

"So, I know it's tempting to think of them as 11 million, as this all one group with the same characteristics. But the reality is, there are a number of subgroups that frankly are worthy of different levels of scrutiny and I hope the House plan will have that."

Gowdy also noted that the House immigration plan would allow state and local law enforcement to help federal agents enforce immigration laws. "Well, that's a non-starter in the Senate," he said. "The Senate is fine with law enforcement enforcing every other category of crime, from child pornography, to murder, to narcotics trafficking, the bank robbery. But heaven forbid they get involved in immigration."

Speaker Boehner has summoned Republican House members to a July 10 discussion about immigration legislation: "We’re going to have a special conference and we’re going to lay all of this out and listen to what the members have to say."

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