Republican lawmaker predicts party’s surge in support for immigration reform

International Desk International Desk , October 30, 2013

The first House Republican to sign on to a comprehensive immigration bill says others will join him shortly.

“While I’m the first Republican to support this legislation I expect others to sign on in the coming days,” Rep. Jeff Denham said during a conference call late Monday afternoon.

“I’m going to continue to encourage my colleagues as I have for many months now to support realistic reform,” Denham continued, saying he’d talked to “every member” in House Republican leadership about the bill in the last week to stress the need for a vote this year.

The Senate approved an immigration reform bill in the spring, but prospects for legislation in the House have appeared dim.

Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democratic sponsor of the bill Denham is now supporting, said that he’d been in talks with a number of other House Republicans in recent weeks, and that some were likely to sign on soon.

Denham hails from a heavily Hispanic swing district, and Democrats are hopeful they can woo Republicans from other districts to join him in supporting the legislation.

“We could have gotten a few other Republicans but all the other Republicans we talked to asked ‘where’s Denham on this?'” Garcia said. “We expect a few more Republicans to join in the next few days.”

Denham said he’s been focused on talking to persuadable members, but that he’d also reached out to hardline opponents to encourage them to moderate their tone on immigrants.

“I’ve spent some time engaging colleagues who have had some, what I would say are very concerning things to say. And we’ve had some discussions on that issue,” he said.

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