Immigration reform seems to be more uncertain than ever. As we recently reported, proposed legislation seeks to amend the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act to allow a large percentage of undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. indefinitely while they wait in line for lawful permanent resident (also known as “green card”) status. Commonly referred to as “a path to citizenship,” the proposed legislation would only allow undocumented immigrants to receive their green cards and be able to apply for full citizenship after all other prior applications for green cards have been processed on behalf of people who have pursued a traditional path to full citizenship, but in no event would they be allowed to obtain a green card in less than 10 years (with exceptions for certain people brought here as children or working in agriculture).
Although the “path to citizenship” legislation passed the Senate back in June, the bill seems to be hitting major hurdles as it makes its way through the House of Representatives. As this Huffington Post article explains, a number of Republicans, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), have said they would not support a “special” pathway to citizenship, but that they will pursue a piecemeal approach to immigration reform.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of the bill’s drafters, remains optimistic about the path to citizenship, however. “It’s my view that the fundamental principle of this legislation has to contain a path to citizenship,” McCain said. “We remain amenable to negotiations on various aspects of it … but a path to citizenship would have to be part of it.”
While the status and nature of immigration reform remains uncertain and illusive, some speculate that the House will pass legislation granting legalized status only to undocumented young people – commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” Long thought of as one of the “easier-to-achieve elements of comprehensive immigration reform,” recent comments made by House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) seem to cast doubt on whether that provision is doomed, as well.
Specifically, Goodlatte recently said, “If you were to do something, I would start first of all with children who were brought here illegally by their parents. They’ve grown up here. They’ve been educated here. They are ready to face the world and they have no documents. I think there’s a more compelling argument to be made for them. But, even for them, I would say that they get a legal status in the United States and not a pathway to citizenship that is created especially for them. In other words, they get that legal status if they have an employer who says I’ve got a job which I can’t find a U.S. citizen and I want to petition for them, ah, they can do that, but I wouldn’t give them the pathway to a Green Card and ultimately citizenship based simply on their entering the country illegally.”
In addition to providing a path to citizenship, the proposed legislation also addresses border security, legal immigration, and enforcement.