September 13, 2016 – By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nv., said Tuesday that a 1,000-page, comprehensive immigration reform bill is not the answer to the nation’s illegal immigration problem. Rather, immigration policies should be placed in separate, one-subject bills, which would help ease getting them passed in both houses of Congress.
Heck’s comments came during an interview with Sam Shad Tuesday from Washington D.C. on the Nevada Newsmakers television program. Heck’s interview was the second in a series of six policy interviews from Washington D.C. with Nevada’s six elected leaders in the U.S. Congress.
“I believe that it has got to be done in a deliberative step-wise manner,” Heck said. “It can’t be done in one comprehensive bill because that is where you find things unrelated to immigration reform being put in as sweeteners.
The step-by-step approach would eventually lead to comprehensive immigration reform, Heck added.
“I think it will be comprehensive but it doesn’t have to be done in a comprehensive bill,” he said. “You can pass a bill for each one of those areas that provides an overall comprehensive approach to modernizing our immigration system. The problem is that when you get into a multi-thousand-page bill, like the one that was passed out of the Senate (in 2013), there were things in there that had nothing to do with immigration.”
Heck went on to blame Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., and the Democrats in Congress for not passing a comprehensive immigration package when Reid and the Democrats had the majorities in both houses of Congress.
If you want to look for a reason for the failure of immigration reform, Sen. Reid had the opportunity to get a bill done when they (Democrats) controlled the (U.S.) House, Senate and White House back in 2009 and 2010 and it wasn’t done,” Heck said.
Heck said Reid and the Democrats could have gotten an immigration package passed if it was important to them.
“When they controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, they were able to get the health care (Obamacare) law passed,” Heck said. “They were able to get Dodd-Frank (Wall Street reform, consumer protection) passed. If immigration was a priority for them, they could have got immigration passed.”
Heck said on Newsmakers that there has been no evolution of his stances on immigration.
“It really hasn’t been an evolution,” Heck said. “It has been the same platform that I ran on back in 2010, which I have subscribed to across the six years that I have been in Congress.”
Heck said on Newsmakers that he supported a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” those who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents, many at a very young age.
Heck added he wanted to deport criminals but supported a pathway to legal status (different than pathway to citizenship) to law abiding, productive adults who are undocumented immigrants.
“Those children (Dreamers) were brought to the United States through no fault of their own, many of them not even knowing they were here illegally until they graduated from high school and found out they don’t qualify for aid they might receive to go on with school,” Heck said. “I have always said those individuals should have some path to citizenship (and I have) proposed legislation that would do so if they completed a degree program, a training certificate in a vocation, an apprenticeship or completed military enlistment.
“Then you have the remaining adult population that are here on undocumented status,” Heck said. “First, you have to go after those who may have committed a crime or are criminals. Look for those individuals and deport them. But for those who have been here for a period of time and are solid and upstanding citizens within the community, they should have some kind of path to some type of legal status here in the United States.”
Heck differs from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., about the threat Russian government hackers pose to the U.S. election process.
Reid said Monday on Newsmakers that he is convinced Russian hackers are trying to influence the U.S. election process. Heck said, “Are they trying to do something here in the United States? I find it unlikely.”
Heck, also a one-star general in the U.S. Army, said he was aware of Russia’s attempt to influence and control governments “within their sphere of influence.”
“We know that the Russians have tried to influence the outcome of elections throughout the Eastern Bloc and into Europe, whether it is through propping up certain candidates or through media campaigns,” Heck said.