LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- It's a big bill and it has big problems -- that's what Republican Congressman Joe Heck is saying about the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate.
Joe Heck spoke out about the bill at the Hispanics in Politics Breakfast. One after another, the conservative congressman addressed questions of a somewhat skeptical audience and cries for action at the Hispanics in Politics Breakfast. The audience wants to see paths created to citizenship, and some labor unions brought piles of petition cards to send their message.
It's a message Heck has to thread very carefully. His district voted twice for Barack Obama, but Heck can't afford to alienate his conservative base.
Heck says he's for immigration reform but there are problems with the bill that need fixing before he'll vote yes. His biggest issue surrounds border control.
“I support border security provisions,” Heck said. “We have to make sure they do the job and they can't be waived if the federal government can't get them done.”
Heck also addressed a recent accusation in a newspaper article he uses the term "anchor babies," referring to children born to illegal immigrants.
“I didn't use the term,” Heck said. “I stopped using the word.”
Today, heck did not stake out a position which he has done in the past. One year ago, heck spoke about immigration at a town hall meeting, saying “My personal opinion: if you're going to be considered a citizen, you should be born to one parent who's a U.s. citizen.”
Today, Heck advocates for discussion.
“I want to have the debate, if we've done these steps to address the immigration issues. ” Heck said.
Heck says, as opposed to the large bill passed by the Senate, he prefers the reforms be passed as part of a piecemeal effort.
“If you do smaller bills, they're more transparent,” Heck said. “Folks get a chance to read through and understand them. The goal is to enact comprehensive immigration bills. I don't care how we get there as long as we get there.”
Some voters say with elections around the corner, if their lawmaker doesn't represent their views, they'll take their vote elsewhere.