Are children the answer to Republicans' immigration reform gridlock?
That’s what House Republican leaders are aiming to find out with a new proposal that would legalize children who were brought to the United States unlawfully by their parents.
It’s hard not to conclude that Republicans are in a political bind over immigration reform. They’ve got pressure from the left, with President Obama campaigning for reform in key states where the Hispanic vote could play an important role in the next election. But the GOP is also facing significant resistance from conservative lawmakers who do not want a bill that includes legalizing 11 million people who came to America unlawfully and granting them a pathway to citizenship.
Now comes a potential solution.
The legalization provision the GOP is least likely to resist involves legalization and even a pathway to citizenship for the kids brought the U.S. illegally by their parents.
The Senate-passed immigration reform bill includes a “Dream Act,” provision that provides an expedited path to citizenship for anyone who arrived illegally in the United States before the age of 16.
Republicans in the House are considering, “legislation dealing with kids,” acknowledged a top leadership aide, who stressed that Republicans do not consider this to be a replica of the Senate Dream Act – and they don’t want anyone calling it that.
Yet a provision offering some measure of legalization would make it hard for Democrats to resist, especially if they believe this is the furthest they’ll get.
“As part of the step-by-step approach the House is taking to address immigration reform, [House Majority Leader Eric Cantor] and I are working on a bill to provide a legal status to those who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children by their parents,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a statement. “These children came here through no fault of their own and many of them know no other home than the United States”
Goodlatte’s panel has taken up separate measures to boost border security, prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants and create an agricultural guest worker program and an expanded visa program for high-skilled workers.
Goodlatte called the latest provision addressing children, “one component of immigration reform,” and referenced the need to include border security and the other measures addressed by his panel. He added that the plan must also, “find a way to fairly deal with those who are currently in the country unlawfully.”
The GOP still lacks consensus on illegal immigrants who came here as adults and it’s more than likely they won’t find it anytime soon.
So this latest proposal – call it the House Republican non-Dream Act – could be the best chance to revive the diminishing chances for immigration reform to pass Congress this year.