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June 20, 2006

It is becoming increasingly clear that Republicans in the House of Representatives are and will be leaning heavily on the immigration issue in the run-up to the November elections and that their mantra is “immigration enforcement or bust.”  Buoyed by the experience of Brian Bilbray (R-CA), who narrowly won a special election to the House over his democratic opponent by campaigning almost exclusively on immigration enforcement, House Republicans are hardening their positions on the issue.  Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) was recently quoted as saying that, “It would be safe to say that the outcome of the Bilbray race was a reaffirmation of the correctness of the House position on security for our borders.  That race underscored our strong commitment to making sure that we focus on border security.”  Further affirmation will occur if John Jacob, a Republican congressional candidate in Utah, is successful in his bid to defeat Republican incumbent Chris Cannon.  Jacob is following the Bilbray model of focusing almost exclusively on immigration enforcement, while incumbent Cannon advocates a comprehensive approach.  A primary victory for Jacob over a Republican incumbent will almost certainly cement an enforcement-only position in the minds of House Republicans going into November elections.  As voiced by Tom Tancredo (R-CO), leader of the restrictionist Immigration Reform Caucus, “It’s much easier to go home and defend the House position and attack the Senate position than it is to try to explain some compromise.”