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Coming Soon to the House: Immigration Foes

Politico has a story today on how some of the likely new GOP House members plan to address immigration. Many of them pushed for tough immigration enforcement and anti-illegal immigration laws in their home states and cities, which could signify the types of legislation they would try to pass in Congress.

Of course, freshman members usually don’t have that much influence, but these potential members would likely have the support of Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Steve King (R-Iowa), who will head committees that manage immigration if the House flips today. I’ll have a few posts later today on some of the major races that could influence immigration issues, but it’s worth looking at some of the probable freshman GOP members as well.

Here are a few possible Republican winners, plus the bills they have pushed for in their home towns and states and some of their priorities if they win today:

Lou Barletta: Barletta is the mayor of Hazleton, Pa., which passed a law cracking down on employers and landlords who hired or rented to illegal immigrants. A court overturned the law in September, finding it preempted federal immigration law. Still, Barletta may push for similar legislation on the national level if he wins today against Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.). “We can convince others, if we’re going to deal with the deficit and the budget, you can’t exclude the illegal immigration problem out of that equation because it has a direct effect on the budget,” Barletta told Politico. “Not dealing with it would be like having a car with three wheels.”

Jeff Perry: Currently a Massachusetts state senator, Perry has attempted to block undocumented immigrants from receiving services funded by taxpayer money, such as public housing. His campaign site argues for a “comprehensive plan” to end illegal immigration: “Secure the border,” step up enforcement and crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. He also supports expanding E-Verify, a program that verifies the immigration status of potential employees, and creating legislation to block social services from illegal immigrants nationwide. Perry is running for an open seat against Democratic candidate William Keating.

Martha Roby: On the Montgomery, Ala., city council, Roby passed an ordinance penalizing businesses that employ undocumented workers. She has argued in support of Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial immigration law the Justice Department sued the state to stop, and says the government must do more to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the border and finding jobs in the United States. Roby could win the seat of Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.).

Sandy Adams: Adams has pushed as a Florida state representative to stop certain immigrant-friendly practices, such as in-state tuition to undocumented students who attended high school in the state. She has also tried to pass legislation preventing illegal immigrants from receiving driver’s licenses. Adams touts her endorsement from Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, or ALIPAC — a group that has fought back against charges that it is tied to Nazism and white supremacist groups — and claims the government should increase enforcement of illegal immigration. Adams is running against incumbent Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.).

For the most part, these legislative efforts are the standard Republican fare on immigration. Most of these candidates hope to push for more enforcement along the border — which was already bolstered by additional troops and funding. They also could come up against significant pushback on attempts to increase immigration enforcement within the United States. The Obama administration has deported record numbers of illegal immigrants, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have chosen to adjust their enforcement priorities rather than requesting more funds to police immigration.

Although border security, especially, has become a major campaign talking point, these potential freshman members might also come up against a lack of support from the GOP leadership. King and Smith failed in their effort to include specific immigration-related plans in the GOP’s Pledge to America, which was meant to be a summary of how a Republican-led House would lead on a number of issues. The actual immigration content in the pledge is vague and unclear on what type of immigration legislation would be a priority for the leadership.

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