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A Permanent Underclass? House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte’s “Solution” for GOP’s Immigration Woes

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Goodlatte & House GOP’s Effort to Deny Citizenship for Undocumented = Un-American, Unpopular, & Tone-Deaf to Political Imperative

Yesterday was a good day for immigration reform prospects, as the AFL/CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a set of shared principles that generated praise and optimism from observers ranging from White House press secretary Jay Carney to House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).

However, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) seems intent to step all over the progress his Party is making on immigration by advancing an un-American and unacceptable concept.  Rep. Goodlatte, along with other House Republicans such as Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), has been vocal this week that his view of “reform” would stop short of citizenship for the undocumented.  In effect, Rep. Goodlatte is endorsing the creation of a permanent underclass of Americans.

In response to Goodlatte’s scheme,  Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund said:

Rep. Goodlatte is advocating the establishment a permanent second-class status for immigrants in America.  With all due respect to the Congressman, that’s not how we do things in America.  We don’t strive to create a tiered society, we strive for inclusion.  If you’re here to stay, work hard and pay taxes, you should be given the chance to earn citizenship.  Period.

Not only is a path to citizenship the right policy for the country, but it’s the right politics for the GOP.  There’s no constituency behind this idea of a ‘permanent temporary’ status—at least none outside of the House Republican conference.  Americans are solidly in favor of a path to citizenship.  And if Republicans want to succeed in rebranding themselves with Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters, they have to do far better than this.  Telling folks they can work here, clean our homes, care for our children and parents, pay taxes, create jobs that employ Americans—but never become one—is not going to cut it.”

Note: Citizenship is supported by the majority of Americans, in poll after poll, including in polls released yesterday from Bloomberg and the Pew Research Center and in a January poll from Republican pollsters Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollsters Hart Research.  In fact, when the Goodlatte/Labrador option is pitted against a path that includes full citizenship, only 7% chose the legal status without citizenship option.  Fully 87% preferred citizenship in the Hart/POS poll.