House Republicans are reportedly set to roll out “principles” governing the sort of immigration reform they would be willing to accept. Most reports suggest they might include some form of legalization for the 11 million undocumented immigrants here — but not citizenship, of course, because that’s “amnesty.”
So it’s worth clarifying that there is a compromise route to immigration reform that many Democrats and advocates might accept. The question is whether Republicans can get to that middle ground.
National Journal reported Wednesday: “According to House leadership and immigration-policy aides, the principles will be broad, nebulous even, and heavily focused on Republicans’ favorite immigration issue — border security. It will not include any concrete proposal, they said. Indeed, the wording is likely to be intentionally squishy, giving lawmakers lots of room to maneuver.”
The question at the center of this debate: Is the GOP intent to merely pass something and tell Democrats, “Take it or leave it,” just to show that Republicans are not hopelessly in the grip of their nativist base? Or do Republicans believe their political problem with Latinos is pressing enough that they need to participate in something approaching comprehensive reform, which would require crafting a proposal that can win enough Democratic votes to pass the House?
The unstated route to success all turns on the term conservatives hate: “special pathway to citizenship.”
There is a way Republicans could embrace legalization that Democrats could ultimately accept. Democrats could insist that if Republicans don’t want a special pathway to citizenship for the 11 million, then the normal channels to citizenship for everyone must be unclogged. That means removing various existing barriers to green cards (which start the path to citizenship) for those who would be sponsored by employers or family members.
A report published Tuesday by the nonpartisan National Foundation for American Policy found that such methods could result in citizenship for as many as 6.5 million people. That gets within striking distance of comprehensive reform, and Democrats and advocates might accept it.The Washington Post