By Donna Cassata, AP
WASHINGTON — The third-ranking House Republican told immigration advocates that lawmakers will not vote this year on the issue, confirming what many had long assumed.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy said in a meeting with immigration proponents that there weren’t enough days left for the Republican-led House to act and he was committed to addressing overhaul of the nation’s immigration system next year. The congressman’s office confirmed what he said.
Angelica Salas, the board chairwoman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, described her conversation with McCarthy in a conference call with reporters on Friday and a subsequent interview with The Associated Press.
“What he said was, there’s 13 days left, it’s very hard to do anything in 13 days,” Salas said of McCarthy.
The House returns next week after a weeklong break, but only has a few legislative days remaining.
The Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally and tighten border security, but piecemeal bills in the House have languished since the summer.
Salas and about a dozen women occupied McCarthy’s California office on Thursday to increase the pressure on the Republican to move ahead on immigration legislation. Around 11 p.m. that night, McCarthy and his wife, Judy, met with the group protesting the delay.
“He said, `Ladies, I hear you want to talk to me. This is just not the way to do it,”’ Salas recalled. She said McCarthy and the group spoke for about an hour, and the women explained that while they appreciated his support for immigration reform, it was imperative for the House to act as soon as possible.
“This is about political will to do what is right,” Salas said. “This is what we’re challenging.”
Most House Republicans reject a comprehensive approach as well as the Senate bill, with many questioning the offer of citizenship to people who broke U.S. immigration laws to be in this country. The House Judiciary Committee has moved forward with individual, single-issue immigration bills.