House Judiciary to mark up series of immigration bills next week

The House Judiciary Committee will begin marking up a series of immigration reform bills next week, the chairman announced Friday.

The Judiciary panel will attempt to send two proposals to the chamber floor. The first, which is designed to bolster the enforcement of immigration laws in the nation's interior, will be marked up Tuesday; the second, which relates to the guest-worker program catering to the nation's agriculture industry, will follow.

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The piecemeal approach runs counter to the strategy employed by the Senate, which this week began floor action on a comprehensive immigration reform package.

But Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) defended his tactics and criticized the consideration of broad legislation as “standard operating procedure” in Washington.

“For far too long, the standard operating procedure in Washington has been to rush large pieces of legislation through Congress with little opportunity for elected officials and the American people to scrutinize and understand them," Goodlatte said Friday in a statement.

"Rather than rush a bill just to ‘find out what’s in it,’ the House Judiciary Committee has instead followed the traditional legislative process of regular order so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past,” he continued. "Immigration reform is too important and complex to not examine each piece in detail.”

At the same time, the bipartisan group of House lawmakers negotiating a comprehensive reform package are struggling to finalize a deal. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), one member of that group, predicted Tuesday that an agreement is imminent, but Rep. Raúl Labrador's (R-Idaho) decision to leave the group earlier in the month has only highlighted the difficulty of crafting a proposal that can pass through the divided House.

Additionally, House Democratic leaders are warning that the piecemeal approach favored by Goodlatte likely won't fly with members of their caucus.

“If you don't have a comprehensive bill, there are segments who are for particular pieces that believe they will get left behind,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, said this week. “Therefore, we believe very strongly that the only viable bipartisan way to proceed is to do so in a comprehensive nature.”