House GOP Leaders Back Legal Status for Immigrants

But not citizenship or a 'special path'; younger illegals could get citizenship
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2014 7:06 PM CST
House GOP Leaders Back Legal Status for Immigrants
John Boehner and Eric Cantor.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

House Republican leaders issued a set of principles today on immigration reform, and the consensus seems to be that they offer enough wiggle room to get a deal done this year. Some highlights:

  • Legal status: Many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants now in the country would be able to attain legal status, though not citizenship.
  • No 'special path': They would attain that legal status not through a "special path"—Republicans say that would be unfair to those who have followed the rules—but only after they "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 access to public benefits)."
  • Citizenship for 'dreamers': Kids brought here illegally by their parents—often referred to collectively as the "dreamers"—would get a path to citizenship.
  • Border security: None of the above takes place until enforcement is beefed up.

How it's being received:

  • Washington Post: It's a big deal because this is "first the first time that (House GOP leaders) would be open to allowing the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants to live and work legally in the United States."
  • The Hill: "The endorsement of a path to legal status for many of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants is a significant step toward comprehensive immigration reform for a party that has long resisted policies that some deride as amnesty."
  • Politico: It sees the move as a "modest change" for the GOP leaders themselves, but "for a Republican Party that advocated 'self-deportation' as recently as 2012, it’s a massive shift."
  • New York Times: "The Republican proposal seeks to walk a fine line: offering legal status—but not citizenship, and not through a special path—to undocumented immigrants who meet certain conditions."
  • President Obama: “I actually think we have a good chance of getting immigration reform,” President Obama told CNN.
  • Chuck Schumer: "While these standards are certainly not everything we would agree with, they leave a real possibility that Democrats and Republicans ... can in some way come together and pass immigration reform."
  • John Boehner: In releasing the plan, he sought to emphasize what the GOP won't do. "These standards are as far as we are willing to go. Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that for her caucus, it is a special path to citizenship or nothing. If Democrats insist on that, then we are not going to get anywhere this year."
  • The AP has the GOP principles in text form here.
(More immigration reform stories.)

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