Heritage Foundation spoke to VOXXI about immigration reform.
The Heritage Foundation is concerned about the KIDS Act and immigration reform. Pictured: Cristian Kaemmer, 2, looks on as he attends an immigration reform rally with his Colombian-born mother, in Florida, May 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

On the eve of House Judiciary subcommittee hearing focused on addressing the immigration status of undocumented youth, the Heritage Foundation released five questions for members of Congress.

The questions centered on what could happen if Dreamers are allowed to become legalized, an idea that is quickly gaining support from House Republicans who were once opposed to it. Some of the questions included concerns about how allowing undocumented youth to legalize would lead to chain migration and would be unfair to those waiting to come here legally, according to the Heritage Foundation.

The group’s questions come as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are working on legislation — known as the KIDS Act — that would pave a path to citizenship for undocumented youth who’ve lived in the United States since they were children. A Cantor aide told VOXXI last week that the bill is still in its early stages of being drafted.

The Heritage Foundation took a lot of heat earlier this year when it released a study that suggested the Senate immigration reform bill would cost the American people $6.3 trillion. Many criticized the study, saying it failed to acknowledge the economic growth that would result from the bill.

Jessica Zuckerman, from Heritage Foundation, spoke to VOXXI about the KIDS Act and immigration reform.
Jessica Zuckerman, policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, spoke about concerns regarding the KIDS Act and immigration reform. (Heritage Foundation)

Jessica Zuckerman, who raised the questions for members of Congress and is a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, sat down in an interview with VOXXI this week. She discussed the conservative research think tank’s concerns with the KIDS Act, what the group thinks should be done with the undocumented population in the U.S., and how the immigration reform is playing out so far in Congress.

Seven questions on immigration reform for the Heritage Foundation

1. What are some of the concerns the Heritage Foundation has with what is known so far about the KIDS Act?

Most of our concerns are based on legislation in the past. For one, we are concerned about what this [KIDS Act] means.Will this encourage further illegal immigration, which can also put children at risk? What is the scope of such legislation and what would it mean for those who are trying to come here legally? Is it the right solution not just for the American public but also for those that we are actually trying to help?

2. It’s very likely that the KIDS Act will include a path to citizenship for undocumented youth. What does the Heritage Foundation think about that idea?

We at the Heritage Foundation, at least with what we’ve seen with the Senate bill, have come out against amnesty. We’ve also come out against the legalization provisions in the DREAM Act before. Our concern with amnesty, for one, is rule of law and enforcing American laws. Also, that it has encouraged further illegal immigration in the past.

3. Has the Heritage Foundation had any conversations with either Goodlatte or Cantor’s office to discuss the details of the KIDS Act?

On that bill specifically, I don’t believe so. I know our vice president of research, David Addington, did post a blog saying, ‘Show us the bill.’ I know they got back to him and said, ‘We don’t have a bill to show you yet.’

4. What should be done with undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States?

That is the big question, and I wish somebody actually had an answer on that, which is why I say this dialogue we are having on immigration reform is important so that we keep discussing this and trying to reach an answer that folks agree on. We haven’t gotten there yet, but it’s important that we’re having this conversation to get to that point.

5. Should undocumented immigrants be legalized?

In terms of the general population, we’re opposed to a blanket amnesty or massive amnesty. That’s the Heritage Foundation’s position on that.

6. What are your thoughts about how there are more Republicans who are coming out in support of allowing undocumented immigrants to gain a legal status?

We need to be careful, particularly when one of the things we hear over and over again is that Republicans have to do this for votes. This is not the reason anybody should be doing this. We need to be making the right choices for our country, for the 4.4 million people who are still trying to come here legally.

7. How do you think the immigration reform debate is going so far?

Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve had enough of a true debate. We’ve had a lot of things being crafted behind closed doors and a lot of unanswered questions with the Senate bill in particular. It was crafted by a select few behind closed doors, discussed with the White House and then thrown on at the senators … I would wish for a more open and honest debate.

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