Texas Republican Personifies Challenge for Immigration Bill

The New York Times

July 3, 2013

GONZALES, Tex. — The questions about immigration at Representative Blake Farenthold’s town meeting were urgent and to the point.

So were the answers.

Mr. Farenthold, a Republican, told an audience here on Tuesday that the overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws that recently passed the Senate “doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell in the House of Representatives.”

The 70 or so constituents — largely older, largely white — who filled the small, warm room in the Gonzales Municipal Building were more curious than combative, more earnest than angry. They wanted to know, for instance, why Mr. Farenthold thought that Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, had supported the Senate’s immigration bill, which includes a path to citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country. “I think he wants to be president,” Mr. Farenthold said with a laugh.

Mr. Farenthold embodies the challenge for advocates of major immigration changes as they press the issue in the House. Even though he represents a district with a significant population of Hispanics, he has strong reservations about providing a path to full citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, a provision that backers of the Senate measure consider a condition of their support. Mr. Farenthold instead favors what he calls “earned legalization” — a process in which immigrants would have to meet a series of conditions for remaining in the United States. Immigration advocates say that approach would create a second class of people who could never become citizens.

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