In Washington, an atmosphere of skepticism has set in over the chances of immigration reform passing through the Republican-controlled House. But Grover Norquist isn't one to sing the blues.
The well-known anti-tax activist has been pushing for Republicans to adopt a more permissive view on immigration for months. Despite the apparent long odds in the House, Norquist believes his argument will prevail.
Norquist on Monday tore into immigration restrictionists on the right who have become louder as the debate has moved from the Senate to the House. He dismissed their argument that higher levels of immigration will depress wages as "anti-people," countering that bringing in more immigrant workers is an "asset for economic growth."
"The argument that immigration suppresses wages is an argument against having children because it depresses wages, because there are more people," Norquist at an event sponsored by The Atlantic. "But they're also anti-people. How do you argue with people who think that people are the problem? That's not something that sells as well as they think it does."
Norquist might have a point. A new Gallup poll shows that the the only population group that favors Republicans over Democrats on immigration are non-Hispanic whites over the age of 50.
But for the time being, Republicans who oppose reform in the House appear to have seized the momentum away from supporters.
House leaders have said they would like to address the issue. But they are facing pressure from hardliners, like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), to not pass anything at all. Language legalizing undocumented immigrants could be added during negotiations with the Senate, argue members like King.
But Norquist, who has close ties to key House Republicans, isn't fretting. He said that "members like King are trying to halt the process because they know the majority of members are moving toward yes on passing a bill.
"[The] voices that are shrill arguing, 'Let's not have a vote,' are doing so because they understand that every day, the Republican caucus is moving toward yes," he said. "They are going to do their own border thing. They are going to do their own H1-B thing. They're not going to do the Senate thing; the House isn't going to take orders from the Senate."