A Teleconference With Roy Blunt, Dan Lungren, & Ed Royce On Illegal Immigration

by John Hawkins | September 21, 2006 7:28 pm

Earlier today, I got in on a teleconference with Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Congressman Dan Lungren and Congressman Ed Royce in order to talk about illegal immigration.

Here are some of my notes from the discussion (These are not quotes):

My question to Roy Blunt: Mr. Blunt, can we get a commitment from you that when the GOP holds the House, that the Party will continue to stand strong on illegal immigration after the election? In other words, when the pressure’s off, can GOP voters count on Republicans in the House to continue to insist on getting all the enforcement measures in place before we start seriously considering the comprehensive parts of the Senate Bill?

Roy Blunt: Yes, you can. I think House members have become more convinced that we’re right over the last few months. Securing the border has to come first and I think it’s critically important that we continue along the same course after the election.

Question: We had heard immigration reform was dead for the year. How did everyone get it wrong?

Roy Blunt: This was our plan all along. We said we were going to have hearings, evaluate the results, and act. I think the Mainstream Media didn’t believe we were taking the issue seriously.

Also, the Senate put a bad bill out there and it helped draw attention to the good parts of our bill. Plus, we have done a few things. The end of catch and release, which is coming, is a big deal.

Question: Pence and Hutchinson have introduced a plan. Have you taken a position and where do you stand?

Roy Blunt: We haven’t taken an official stand, but illegals shouldn’t be able to become citizens. Nor should they be able to just go across the border, touch base and come back. They should have to go back home, get in line like everybody else, and apply from there.

Question: Is the Senate going to kill all the good things that the House is doing?

Roy Blunt: I do think that many of the Senators who voted for the Senate bill have got to be wondering why they voted to support it at this point. Still, we do have trouble with the Senate on this issue.

Also, we have taken some steps to secure the border — almost $22 billion worth of new money spent on the border — about the same amount next year. It is producing some results. We just spent $5 billion more on technology on the border and there are people building the fence. Unfortunately, the border has been neglected for a long time and we’re trying to play catch up.

At this point, Roy Blunt had to go and Dan Lungren & Ed Royce took over.

Dan Lundgren’s Basic Statement: The American people sensed that Congress didn’t follow-through on the commitments from the Reagan Amnesty and they were right. War, spending, and immigration were the big 3 issues that we kept hearing from constituents. We do need to do something about temporary workers and illegals that are here, although they shouldn’t be able to become citizens. But, security has to come first.

Ed Royce’s Basic Statement: Border security has become national security. The Senate plan is like the Reagan Amnesty plan that didn’t work. The Senate plan would weaken border security. House Republicans stuck to principle on the border security approach. The bloggers and rank and file deserve credit for pushing so hard to make this a big issue. Support for tough border security measures is so strong that even the Senate has started to come around.

My Question: When will the border fence be completed?

Answer: We will be working at various points across the border, but we will have enormous opposition from the left. The fence in San Diego took an act of Congress to complete. We certainly don’t want to consult with Mexico, as the Senate requests. That won’t be in the bill Senator Frist is bringing up. (Hawkins’ Note: Translation — it’s going to take years and years and years.)

Question: Why do you think that turned into such a big issue?

Answer: If the Capitol were located in Long Beach, CA, we would have solved it already because Congress would have realized how important it was earlier. It used to be a border district issue, but it’s a national issue now. Immigration is one of the top 2 issues in races all over the country. Anyone who doesn’t deal with immigration in a way that people find acceptable probably isn’t going to win at the ballot box this fall.

Summary: Overall, I liked what I heard. They sounded absolutely convinced that an enforcement first position was a right way to go, they seemed to have a good handle on how important this issue is to the base, and Blunt, who is a member of the House leadership, said with no wiggle room whatsoever, that they are not going to roll over after the election and just go along with what the Senate and President wants on illegal immigration. In other words, it’s going to be the House way or the highway, which is exactly the attitude they should have on this issue.

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