Amodei seeks role on immigration reform

Rep. Mark Amodei has been placed on the House immigration subcommittee from where he will have a seat near the front of the debate over reform bills.

The Nevada Republican, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, said he lobbied for a spot on the subcommittee after Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a conservative and fellow second-term lawmaker, was named its chairman.

"If you guys are going to do something, I want to be on the committee," Amodei said he told Gowdy. "Let's do something."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told the Ripon Society, a Republican policy group, last week that a bipartisan group of House members has been meeting on immigration issues, and that "it's time to deal" with immigration.

But House Republican leaders also have signaled they may wait for the Senate to act first before taking up the controversial topic.

A number of House Republicans reacted cautiously this week to the framework for a bill that eight senators rolled out on Monday. Likewise, some shrugged at President Barack Obama's visit to Las Vegas on Tuesday where he called for Congress to act quickly or else he will send his own proposals to Capitol Hill.

During an appearance Saturday on KENV-TV in Elko, Amodei said he was eager to tackle immigration reform, which will include visa issues for farmworkers in his Northern Nevada district.

"There's a border element, there's a guest worker element. There's some sort of status element," Amodei said. "There's not going to be an amnesty element, so people who are worried about that ..."

While Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in November, including seven in 10 who preferred President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney in Nevada, Amodei said he did not accept the idea that Hispanics "don't like Republicans."

"Listen, they are family-values folks, they are spiritual, they are self-reliant, they're blue-collar, it's like, these are our folks," he said.

As for fears that undocumented residents risk being "rounded up and shipped back," Amodei said, "it may upset some people to hear this but we do not have the ability or the resources to do that, even if you thought that was a good policy."

Amodei said Hispanics, who comprise more than 25 percent of Nevada's population, are a constituency and not a minor interest.

"I tell them, 'I'm not talking to you because you are a special interest. You have a seat on the board of directors, the same as it was an agriculture interest, a mining interest, a gaming interest. Listen, you people are plankholders. Now welcome to the club,' " he said.