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Roskam navigates immigration uproar as rival Casten woos Hispanics in Illinois 6

Congressman Peter Roskam. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media

WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., voted against a hard-line immigration bill on Thursday that failed on a 193-231 roll call, siding with Democrats as his Democratic rival, Sean Casten, is making a major appeal to Hispanic voters.

Casten campaign manager Michael Garton told the Chicago Sun-Times that they project the Hispanic vote in the west suburban 6th Congressional District seat to be between five and eight percent, a big enough bloc to be a factor in the high- profile battle.

Garton told me that the Casten campaign is “specifically targeting the Hispanic community,” and has been running immigration related ads on Facebook and websites.

There were 193 Republicans who voted for HR4760, introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

ANALYSIS

Roskam was one of 41 Republicans to vote no, along with 190 Democrats. There were no Democratic yes votes. Roskam most often votes with the GOP majority.

The other six Illinois House Republicans – Randy Hultgren; Adam Kinzinger; John Shimkus; Rodney Davis and Michael Bost – voted for the Goodlatte legislation.

The House GOP leaders had to push to next week a vote on a compromise immigration measure being negotiated between conservatives and moderates, with the delay caused by an inability to make a deal that can protect “Dreamers” – youths in the U.S. illegally through no fault of the their own – and pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall. No Democrats are bargaining at the GOP table.

Republicans in Congress are confronting two immigration related uproars created by Trump – ending an Obama-era program protecting Dreamers and the latest, the outcry sparked by separating children from families either crossing the U.S. border with Mexico illegally or seeking asylum.

Trump was forced to backtrack on Wednesday and signed an executive order keeping families in custody together while their cases are processed.

I asked Roskam spokesman Veronica Vera why Roskam voted against the Goodlatte legislation.

Vera said in an email, “the bill didn’t provide a permanent solution to address DACA/Dreamers,” a reference to the Obama administration Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

However, Roskam declined to sign a petition drive backed by Democrats and moderate Republicans that would have gone around House GOP leadership and forced votes on four immigration measures –including one with Dreamer protections – with the bill with the most votes advancing to the Senate.

The petition drive fell two votes short, with all seven Illinois House GOP members declining to sign.

The vote on the Goodlatte bill for practical purposes shuts down the petition drive.

Roskam heads into the summer election fight with immigration a Casten priority issue, with about 2,900 Dreamers in the district, according to Garton.

If the Republican House leadership does muster a GOP consensus measure, it still might not get the 218 votes needed to pass if the hardliners see it as too moderate.

Trump in a Thursday Tweet discouraged a House GOP deal to bring a Republican compromise bill to the floor.

Said Trump, “What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate?” a reference to the Senate rules where a supermajority is needed to pass a measure.

Roskam’s reason for not signing the discharge petition as of June 14 was that he was waiting, his office told me, to review legislation to “secure our borders and secure a future for our Dreamers.”

Roskam has a political flank exposed because he never signed the petition which would have given a Dreamer bill a vote. If the GOP leaders can’t muster a bill, then Roskam has a tougher time explaining why he passed up the petition.