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Sam Johnson: An Unlikely Immigration Negotiator

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Johnson has been working on rewriting immigration policy since 2009, when he started behind-the-scenes conversations with other House members.

When Openshaw asked Dave Heil, Johnsons chief of staff, to explain what the Texas Republican was up to, Heil responded in an email.

In Sams view, sitting around and doing nothing is a great disservice to his constituency, his state and his country. He doesnt want to be having this debate in another 10 or 15 years, we need to solve this problem now and for the future, Heil wrote.

Supporters of the immigration group also think Johnsons reputation will help sell their bipartisan deal.

Hes a great American. Everyone loves him and he can do whatever he wants. If a POW of seven years is behind something, youre just an asshole if you oppose it, a GOP House aide said.

Maybe, although prudence would dictate some caution. Just ask McCain.

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