While almost all House Democrats agree on an immigration reform plan that includes a path to citizenship, House Republicans are still trying to figure out what direction they’ll take as a party on the issue.
It seems that House Republicans have three different views over how to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
One group of House Republicans opposes a path to citizenship, saying it would reward undocumented immigrants. A second group says offering undocumented immigrants a chance to become U.S. citizens is an essential component of immigration reform. And a third group sees the need to address what to do with people who are in the country unlawfully but haven’t made up their minds on whether or not to support a path to citizenship.
The House is taking up the immigration reform issue after the Senate approved last month an immigration reform bill that includes a 13-year path to citizenship.
House Republicans offer their own solutions
House Republican leaders say they are serious about addressing the immigration reform issue and are offering several solutions to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
A congressional staffer from the GOP told VOXXI that the party recognizes the need to fix the nation’s broken immigration system and noted that House Republicans plan to addressing those who are here unlawfully through “a step-by-step approach.”
When Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) was asked during an interview last week with MSNBC if this “step-by-step approach” would include a path to citizenship, he responded:
“It will include a path to legal status. I don’t know that it will include a path to citizenship. It will be some sort of legal status, which I think should not prevent anybody from becoming citizens but will not necessarily give them citizenship status.”
Meanwhile, there are also some House Republicans, like Virginia’s Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who support allowing undocumented youth who came to the country as children an opportunity to become U.S. citizens. And there are others, like Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who support extending that opportunity to all undocumented immigrants.
For some GOP leaders, path to citizenship is a tough sell
But a path to citizenship — and even a path to legal status — is looking to be a tough sell to several House Republicans who refer to such paths as “amnesty.”
“Amnesty is a pardon for immigration lawbreakers and a reward for their violation of our laws,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told hundreds of people who gathered Monday on Capitol Hill to protest the Senate-approved immigration bill. “If you do that, how can you ask people to aspire to come to America legally if the promise is: If you can get here, you can stay here?”
King has been one of the most vocal opponents of legislation, such as the Senate immigration bill, that seeks to pave a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He also opposes the idea of giving undocumented immigrants a legal status, saying it can’t be done without “sacrificing the rule of law.”
Now, he worries that through the piecemeal approach that his party is taking to address immigration reform, the House could approve legislation that would permit undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
“I’ve been asking the people who believe in the piece-by-piece approach how they can describe for me how any of that is going to get to the president’s desk without citizenship attached,” he told VOXXI. “So far, they haven’t given me a satisfactory answer to that question.”