Last week, we took a closer look at Republicans struggling to find common ground and common purpose on immigration reform. Last night, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) tried to carefully "thread the needle" on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) at his Henderson town hall. He acknowledged receiving plenty of lobby pressure by the extreme anti-immigrant Numbers USA. And perhaps in tipping his hat to them, he proclaimed his continuing opposition to the great threat of "amnesty" that absolutely no one on Capitol Hill is proposing.
So far, the only major difference between the "Gang of 8" plan that Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is touting and President Obama's CIR plan that he rolled out here in Southern Nevada late last month is that Obama's plan has more specifics. Perhaps that's why Heck refused to endorse either of the twin CIR proposals last night. However, he also didn't rule out CIR.
And perhaps in the biggest stunner of the night, Heck said he can support the earned citizenship proposal at the heart of both Obama's plan and the "Gang of 8" plan.
Numbers USA wasn't the only group that's been lobbying Heck on immigration. DREAM Big Vegas has been pushing Heck and Senator Dean Heller to support CIR. They've been succeeding with Heller, they found a surprise with Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City), and it now looks like Heck is next. With Heck's CIR announcement last night, there's now the possibility of the entire Nevada Congressional Delegation uniting to support a CIR bill. (All 3 Democrats, Reid, Titus, & Horsford, strongly support CIR.)
Clearly, the changing demographic reality of Nevada and the nation are finally weighing on all of Nevada's Congressional Republicans. In addition, both business and labor in this state and nationally have been calling for CIR for some time as it makes economic sense. It sounds like Joe Heck is now listening.
Yet at the same time, some "tea party" backed Republicans have offered their own anti-CIR plan. And a few top G-O-TEA politicians are even admitting that they just don't want to support anything that Obama supports. So it may still not be easy to get Heck fully on board with CIR, but at least there's now a real possibility.