House GOP Floats Legalization Path for Immigrants

Republicans lay out tough path for undocumented immigrants to get legal status

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Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

House Speaker John Boehner and a news conference during the GOP retreat Thursday.

House Republican leaders on Thursday proposed giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status if America’s borders are secured and immigrants meet specific requirements, in a broad outline for reform that represents the party’s most substantive play on the issue in years.

The one-page set of “principles,” distributed by party leaders to rank-and-file lawmakers at a House GOP retreat here, laid out strict conditions for adult immigrants to obtain legal status. “These persons could live here legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families” without public benefits, according to the document. The children of undocumented immigrants would have to pass eligibility standards and either serve in the military or attain a college degree. The GOP outline also calls for Congress to implement a “workable” electronic employment verification system, an entry-exit visa tracking system that prevents fraud and verifies identity, and a visa program designed to keep high skilled immigrants working in the country. The legalization measures would only take effect once “specific enforcement triggers have been implemented.”

Just a few months after the House blocked a comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate, the latest move could breathe new life into a lethargic movement for changing what both parties agree is a broken system. Some members of House Republican leadership have previously supported such provisions, but many conservative lawmakers recoil at anything that resembles amnesty for immigrants here illegally. The proposal comes at a moment when Republican leaders are increasingly worried that their low approval ratings among a growing population of Hispanic voters could once again harm their prospects of taking back the White House.

“I think it’s time to deal with it,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters. “It’s been turned into a political football. I think it’s unfair.”

Reform advocates, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the business-backed Chamber of Commerce, applauded the effort as a significant breakthrough. “We welcome the House Republicans to the immigration debate,” Frank Sharry, executive director of pro-reform group America’s Voice, said in a statement. “It’s about time.”

The question now is whether Democrats, who have already acquiesced on tactics in voicing a willingness to pass immigration reform in pieces rather than in a comprehensive bill, will also be willing to move in the GOP’s direction on policy. Pulling Democrats away from compromise is the belief that stronger reforms remain a political winner, especially important considering the difficult climate they face in the coming midterm elections. “I think that any immigration bill that the Republicans advocate that stops short of a path to citizenship is going to damage them permanently with Hispanic voters,” Joel Benenson, President Barack Obama‘s chief pollster, told reporters on Wednesday.

And Boehner signaled that his first offer could be the last. “These standards are as far as we are willing to go,” he said.

Democrats, who prefer a full path to citizenship for all immigrants in the country illegally, welcomed the news as a step forward.

“While these standards are certainly not everything we would agree with, they leave a real possibility that Democrats and Republicans, in both the House and Senate, can in some way come together and pass immigration reform that both sides can accept,” New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “It is a long, hard road, but the door is open.”

“We’ve seen those reports and we will closely look at the document when it is released,” a White House official said. “The President’s principles on immigration reform are well established. We welcome the process moving forward in the House, and we look forward to working with all parties to make immigration reform a reality.”

In the short term, Republicans could likely pick up seats in the House and Senate without having to deal with immigration. A recent Pew Research poll found that “dealing with illegal immigration” is one of the lowest priorities for Americans. Some conservative pundits have decried doing anything on immigration reform for fear that it will take attention off President Barack Obama’s divisive health care reform law. The Madison Project, a conservative group, immediately decried the principles as “politically tone-deaf.”

20 comments
GrayLiddell
GrayLiddell

We do not want or need more immigrants. In 1986 we 'reformed' 2.7 million, now we are talking about 11 million. In 2040 we will be talking about 'reform' for 40 million more.
But if you like traffic jams, and lower wages brought about by a much greater supply of workers, then by all means enact so called 'reform.'

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

IN CAPS FOR THE ELDERLY......DEFEND THE WEAK......KNIGHT TEMPLARS


USE YOUR BRAIN.....IF ANY.......12 MILLION ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS......PLUS 4 KIDS EACH.....PLUS 2 PARENTS EACH......IS 4O MILLION MOUTHS TO FEED........TO GO ON THE WELFARE ROLLS.....SCHOOLS.....AND WHTAEVER ELSE THERE IS....


AND  YOU......LEGAL IMMIGRANTS.....AND US CITIZENS......ARE GOING TO PAY.....PAY ...FOR.....FOR THESE 40 MILLION MOUTHS.....AND WHERE ARE THE JOBS??????


OBAMA....HAS JUST DESTROYED AMERICA BY MAKING IT BANKRUPT SO QUICK....WELCOME TO THE HUNGER GAMES!


VALENTINE, COMEDIAN....LOL.....

armandocdll81
armandocdll81

Two of the biggest flaws with the Senate's immigration bill are that it allows many previously repatriated aliens to return to the United States and that the unauthorized foreign nationals already occupying our communities are given a pathetically small fine to pay in order to legalize their status. 

GlennSL
GlennSL

Much of the debate here an elsewhere shows the lack of knowledge of the present immigration and naturalization system and actual conditions in the US.  For example, even for those whose arrival and subsequent processing was "legal", the cost of the various steps of the immigration and naturalization process is paid for by those going through the process, and can cost thousands of dollars.  Already, to become a naturalized citizen one must pass a test on civics and US history, in English, that many native-born folks could not pass without serious study.  Also, many immigrants owe no back taxes because they don't work (children, older parents, some wives), and many of those who do, if  they are not paid under the table by Americans breaking the law, pay taxes, using an IRS issued tax number in lieu of a SSN.  They also get SS and Medicare payments taken out of their pay, but unlike the native-born, can't gain access to it unless they become legalized. 

No, they were not brought here against their will.  The came for two reasons.  The first is that US companies send "recruiters" to the poverty stricken areas of the world to tell the folks that if they make it here, there will be a job for them.  There is also the simple fact that under today's laws restricting immigration, growers, ranchers, dairymen, cannot get enough people to do the work without resorting to undocumented  immigrants.  The entertainment industry would suffer a tremendous hit if all the immigrant workers-maids, house boys, dishwashers, etc. suddenly disappeared, or because they were no longer afraid of being turned over to ICE for deportation no longer would work off the clock, at less than minimum wages,  or agitated for humane working conditions.  Want to learn how tough you are?  Get a job picking tomatoes in Florida where the few cents a pound you get for picking will get you minimum wage for a 40 hour week in only seven, 10-hours days a week.  Its also hot, and you live in a trailer bunkhouse. Or  you could try to match the pace expected of hotel maids for the number of rooms to be cleaned in a shift.  But bad as that is, the second reason for coming is that it still offers more than their homelands.  Why else would someone want to leave family, culture, climate, everything they have known and loved, to come to a place where the language, the food, the culture is different and you are on the short end of everything, and often taken advantage of in ways we don't like to admit. 

We are poor students of history.  The big difference between the America that was built by immigrants, and the America of today, is that beginning in about 1915, when the earlier arrivals, our ancestors,  got comfortable, they began to pass restrictive laws that for the first time created a situation where you might enter other than legally.  Prior to that we advertised for immigrants to come and help make the country grow, and it was nearly impossible to come illegally.  Now we like the fact that immigrant labor makes our low prices possible in so many areas, but don't want "them" to live here with "us."

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

The GOP outline also calls for Congress to implement a “workable” electronic employment verification system, an entry-exit visa tracking system that prevents fraud and verifies identity, and a visa program designed to keep high skilled immigrants working in the country.

That sounds more like a parole system than a path to citizenship.That's been the problem with the GOP all along on this issue.  They perceive Hispanic immigrants as criminals and treat them accordingly.  Is it any wonder Hispanics have overwhelmingly rejected the GOP.  


RickHunter
RickHunter

It is still Amnesty but the ReBLOODlican plan is one I can get behind.  The vaunted St. Reagan said in 1986 that that reform would be the last ever needed and almost 30 years later, the US didn't learn a bloody thing from the 1986 foul up so we're going through it again.


It would make more sense, logically, financially, morally, to ENFORCE THE LAWS ON THE BOOKS!  However, it isn't the POLITICALLY CORRECT thing to do so we cater to law breakers for votes.


And thus the decline of the Second Roman Empire continues its long, slow march into obscurity.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

I think it’s time to deal with it,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters. “It’s been turned into a political football. I think it’s unfair."

Well Mr. Speaker, you did it to yourself.  But, on a positive note, I'm very glad to see this move toward a conversation on Immigration Reform.  It's badly needed and will help the business community and the nation at large.


And Boehner signaled that his first offer could be the last. “These standards are as far as we are willing to go,” he said.


Hmmm....looks like it's going to be a short conversation.  Nothing like throwing the anchor out when still tied up to the pier.  Good luck with that.



HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

I wonder whom Boehner is referring-to when he says “It’s been turned into a political football. I think it’s unfair.”  Unfair to the the people stuck in-limbo?  Nah...I'm sure that he feels, once again, that the GOP is being unfairly demonized. 

jsfox
jsfox

That rending sound you hear? Oh that's just the Republican Party tearing itself apart. They are screwed either way. They pass or try to pass reform and their base goes crazy as can be seen  by some of the comments here.  Now since most of their base are rapidly dying off this is temporary problem, but Republicans are not known for their long view. Don't pass reform and you lose the fastest growing voting demographic in the country for generations to come.

drudown
drudown

Gee, let’s start the “debate” with the COST/BENEFIT to the People and State from the GOP’s proposed plan to “lift the ban” on Oil exports in a subversive attempt to advance a larger “fracking” agenda that is prohibitively more expensive (e.g., post-methane leaks; National Security issues; and TRILLIONS of foreseeable REMEDIATION costs for our DWINDLING potable water supplies). Taken to its illogical conclusion, the GOP sure seems to be “strategizing” as if Climate Change wasn’t, in fact, any more real that their collect DUTY to ALWAYS ADVANCE A COMPELLING STATE INTEREST. Sorry, a few dirty jobs and a even less people making a TON of money selling “cheap natural gas” to Asia is not PREFERABLE to simply TAXING the US Corporations the GOP has tried to SHIELD from ANY taxation in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. In short, the State is better off simply “capturing” wealth from these corrupt Corporations polluting the integrity of our political system and the very fresh water our Economy, Agriculture and National Security depend on. The “risk” has already proven to be far more DAMAGES (google “fracking + Pavilion, WY”) than any benefit. So why is the GOP hell bent on pushing an INJURIOUS course of Energy policy as it tries to “muscle through” an UNLAWFUL “trade agreement” with (I can write this) private entities and market players acting merely under the color of foreign law. That is NOT LEGAL in the United States. What, these people happen to work for the State so it makes it “legal” to SUBVERT the Constitution or People’s Substantive and Procedural Due Process rights by “fast tracking” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”)? That just shows more evidence and Scienter of CORRUPTION and intent to injure the People, the Military’s streamlined functioning and the Several States.

Most egregious, the Congress wants to (drudown, I can write this) "fast track" this TPP "trade agreement" that just WEAKENS the PEOPLE's RIGHTS and REMEDIES and United States' own SOVEREIGNTY via this UNLAWFUL and patently unconstitutional Trans-Pacific Partnership ("TPP")? Given that the TPP (1) purports to have an AFFECT on OUR RIGHTS and LAWS and it wasn't GENERATED IN CONGRESS PURSUANT TO FEDERAL LAW. Sorry, K street cannot "draft" its own "revised law according to Market Players" and "fast track" it through BRIBED politicians in Washington, D.C.. This IS IMPEACHABLE for our President to sign the TPP into law. NO PRESIDENT CAN "waive" the Several States' 10th Amendment rights! Here, the express language of the TPP purports to usurp STATE POWERS and the TPP is NOT a CREATURE of LEGISLATION any more than these TREASONOUS BIT COINS undermine Federal plenary power to regulate and occupy the field of CURRENCY. 

Say, start acting you understand there is "no discretion" to SCREW the PEOPLE and commit CRIMES against the CONSTITUTION of the United States. 

There needs to be A STATE (e.g., Hawaii, Wisconsin, Alaska, CA…SOMEBODY) has to SUE the Federal Government in the Supreme Court (which has Original Jurisdiction) to END this TPP and Bitcoin and "let's drown the government into the bathtub" TREASON. I don't understand how anyone can more credibly DENY CLIMATE CHANGE amidst RECORD TEMPERATURES than ratifying the TPP or ANY INJURIOUS "trade agreement" or "repealing" the ACA when it HAS PROVEN TO SLOW HEEALTH CARE COSTS TO LOWEST LEVELS IN DECADES. 

The Congress AND President have to ADVANCE A COMPELLING STATE INTEREST when the State Action involves DUE PROCESS considerations. The TPP purports to "bequeath" EMINENT DOMAIN powers to "private companies" out of THIN AIR. The TPP is NOT US LAW. 

Show me the LEGAL AUTHORITY that could even POSSIBLY allow, say, "Bitcoins to undermine the US Dollar" or "the TPP to weaken the State's or People's ability to recover damages for wrongful conduct"... for NO CONSIDERATION.

That is why it is so BLATANTLY CORRUPT. It is a FOREIGN DESPOT trying to "buy" our Nation our from under us and slowly Bankrupt us by BRIBING the Congress from EQUITABLY ENFORCING THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX LAWS. Sorry, there is NO NEED to "reform" tax laws. The STATE cannot "waive" its right to COLLECT past, present or future taxes. Incredibly, the TPP purports to LIMIT the People's OWN ABILITY to govern ourselves. 

And the President and Congress want to "fast track" this AND "magically bequeathing citizenship" to 20,000,000 illegal immigrants WITHOUT any case law to support it? This subversion of OUR PRECEDENT…

is TREASON. 

and it is effectuated by CORRUPTION. 

oddieferret
oddieferret

Keep in mind that when the voting majority is Hispanic open border organizations like La Raza and many others will have won the war that was started in the 60's to take over the US.

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

Anyone else thinking that the average GOP voter wouldn't be able (or willing) to pass these standards?

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

GOP: "We want immigration reform", then propose a plan which will reform nothing.

I mean, parts of it are fine.  I like the idea of mandatory English proficiency and American civics.  I'd make them apply at their embassies, myself.  But the rest?  

Intensive background checks...  I can understand criminal checks and am good with that, but how "intensive" will they be, and who pays for it?  What other than criminal activity or background would disqualify anyone?  And won't admitting culpability mean they're confessing to a crime which would be entered into the record and be grounds for refusing admission.  I mean, what other possible reason is there to  "admit culpability"? To feel morally superior?

I mean, if they jump through the other hoops, that's fine.  I'm also good with making sure they have jobs and can support themselves.  But if American citizens can get benefits to get through hard times, then those immigrants who have jobs who still need assistance should be able to get it, too if they're here to stay.

As for the "significant fines", are you kidding me?  Make them pay for the U.S. to process them and pay for their own proficiencies and lessons, but beyond that, it's just petty.

But why can't the kids follow the same track as the parents?  What, the GOP doesn't have enough blacks enlisting anymore since Roe v. Wade made aborting unwanted fetuses legal that they want to force immigrant kids to do what the GOP kids don't do - ever?  And how the hell are immigrants going to pay for college for their kids?  Most people today have to start savings funds before their kids are born to even be able to afford college.

This "plan" was designed to allow about four very wealthy immigrants to be here legally, but wealthy immigrants aren't here illegally.  99.999% of the immigrants here legally won't be able to fulfill these demands, let alone the ones here illegally.  It's obvious the GOP isn't interested in immigration reform and only did this to say "Hey, we have a plan we'll agree do." instead of always saying, "We don't want Hispanics here, and we're not happy about so many Asians coming here, either."

Make it something the majority can do and then we can talk.  This provides a starting point.  But as with most things from the GOP, it's an unreasonable starting point.  The question is, will they bother to negotiate or is this simply a ploy for them to later say, "Hey, we had a plan but the Democrats don't want immigration reform." when their plan crashes and burns.

I wouldn't make my dog do the things the GOP is demanding.

armandocdll81
armandocdll81

@Sparrow55 Not all Hispanic immigrants are unauthorized foreign nationals who have conspired to circumvent our laws.  There are many dignified people who actually come here legally. 

armandocdll81
armandocdll81

@HudsonValleyTim  The people stuck in limbo weren't dragged kicking and screaming across our borders. No one held a gun to their heads and said, "Overstay you VISA or I'll blow your brains out." They have only themselves to blame. It's time for them to man up and take a little responsibility for their actions. Same goes for the vile entities who employ unauthorized foreign nationals .

Whatanotion
Whatanotion

@oddieferret yeah tell that to my Anglo Brothers in law who inherited my ranch without lifting a finger.  They happily married into land owning Hispanic families knowing that the mothers would favor the daughters who married Anglos.  Now they have ranches with oil wells and without knowing how to dig a fence post hole.

jmac
jmac

@oddieferret  That's what you get when the Chamber of Commerce wants slave labor.   Bring them over to pick our grapes and oranges, treat them like dirt, love the cheap labor and keep bringing them to do our dishes and cut our lawns and work in !00 degree heat to build our roads - 


and they take over.    Who would have thought?  

manlyman
manlyman

@jmac @oddieferret Bring them over? You mean they're here against their will Jmac?

If you get any dumber they're gonna have to attach a feeding tube.

jmac
jmac

@manlyman @jmac @oddieferret  They're certainly here for the will of Republican businessmen in the Chamber of Commerce.   Without question.  


Of course they come when they can have jobs.   Who wouldn't?  You'd cross the border too to get a job to feed your family back home.   Then you'd try to get your family over.  


It's really not rocket science, manly - they come because we hire them.  We've also used them.   And history shows when you use a group of people for slave labor - they take over.  One of them even becomes president some day.