Republicans plan tough border security bill in 2015

Republicans plan tough border security bill in 2015
Republican lawmakers outraged by President Barack Obama’s action on immigration reform plan to introduce a bill that could include a provision to put an electrified wire on the Mexican border to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants.

House Republican aides say the move to introduce legislation strengthening the US-Mexican border could come early next year, and could be just the beginning of efforts to repair US immigration law. Provisions could include improving border security, an online system for companies to check workers’ immigration status and expanding visas for high-tech foreign workers.

"I think there is the realization...that this issue is not going away," said Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), who has labored to write broad immigration legislation, to Reuters.

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House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is likely to lead legislation efforts and has been an advocate for tougher border defenses.

The House rejected the bipartisan Senate immigration bill in 2013 and hurriedly passed legislation at the end of the summer session that would never have gained traction in the Senate. Senior House Republican aides said it was unclear what bills might move next year beyond border security.

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Republicans do want more control of the immigration debate, but they will have to address the 12 million undocumented immigrants already living in the US. Republicans are also aware of having to improve their standing with Latinos, who will be crucial votes in the 2016 presidential election if they hope to recapture the White House. They will also control the House and Senate in 2015, but will need support from Democrats to pass legislation.

President Obama already told business leaders this week that "it's going to be hard, I think, for me and for other Democrats" to support piecemeal legislation that deals with the concerns of business but does not address undocumented Americans.

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A leading Democrat on immigration, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Cali.) was asked by Reuters if she could support a Republican border security bill, for example.

"It depends on what it is," Lofgren said, adding that Iowa Republican Rep. "Steve King wants to do a (border) wall with electrified wire...I don't think that's a winning vote."