Raleigh, N.C. — A Thursday demonstration at Wake Technical Community College seeking in-state tuition for students who are in the U.S. illegally comes as the U.S. House weighs immigration reform proposals.
The U.S. Senate passed a reform package in June, calling for an increase in border security, tighter employment restrictions and a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people nationwide. The House leadership has said it will take up its own reform initiatives, but the success depends on Republicans agreeing to various provisions.
David McLennan, a William Peace University political science professor, said he believes Republicans nationwide are split on immigration reform.
"Simply because of what happened in 2012, they see the handwriting on the wall as the number of Latino voters grows," McLennan said. "In North Carolina, probably they're more consistent."
None of the House Republicans that WRAL News contacted this week said they support the Senate bill. Several said they oppose amnesty and favor incremental reform.
"Our immigration system is broken, and we should be more concerned with getting immigration reform right than getting it done quickly," 13th District Congressman George Holding said, adding that the Senate tried to tackle a series of complex issues in a sweeping bill and failed.
"I will oppose any policy that allows individuals who have cheated the system and entered the country illegally to gain citizenship ahead of those who have put in the time and effort to follow the appropriate process," 3rd District Congressman Walter Jones said in a statement.
Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers declined to comment on the issue until the House has drafted legislation for consideration, according to a spokesman. Sixth District Congressman Howard Coble couldn't be reached for comment.
"It's a big issue because it impacts such a large part of the economy," McLennan said. "Clearly, the agriculture industry in North Carolina is impacted by it. The building industry is impacted by it."
Leonor Clavijo, the executive director of the North Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Wake County alone has more than 3,000 Latino business owners. She sees immigration reform as an economic issue, noting that immigrants have buying power and political power.
"They have power and they show it, and that's why it's so important right now to offer opportunities to engage this population," Clavijo said. "We believe the best opportunity will be that the House pass what the Senate proposed."
McLennan said House Republicans will be the big losers entering an election year if immigration reform fails.
"Clearly, since House Republicans are the major roadblock, the House Republicans face the more difficult circumstances," he said.