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Has America’s Voice Changed Its Position on Legalization With a Path to Citizenship? No.

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We Are Open to Working with a House Architecture on Legalization/Citizenship, But Only If it Leads to Inclusive Legalization and Achievable Citizenship 

(Washington D.C)  A blog post that appeared online at the Wall Street Journal website tonight has caused considerable confusion, and raised questions about where America’s Voice stands on the question of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.  The piece has been read by some as suggesting that America’s Voice might favor legalization without citizenship, or that we have somehow shifted positions regarding the future of the 11 million.  Since none of that is true, below is a statement of clarification from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.

Earlier today I was a panelist at an event hosted by Simon Rosenberg of NDN.  The other panelist was Tamar Jacoby of Immigration Works.  During the event Tamar described the outlines of a Republican-oriented proposal that would legalize most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America and offer eventual citizenship to most of the 11 million.  She asserted that the policy idea – a “no special pathway to citizenship” approach to legalization and citizenship – could find support from a majority of House Republicans.

During the discussion, which can be watched here, I challenged Republicans to come forward with a proposal.  I said that an architecture of “no special pathway to citizenship” – if the details were right – could be the basis for bipartisan negations in the House, and then for negotiations between the House and Senate.

To be clear, I did not say or imply that legalization without citizenship is acceptable.  I did not imply that blocking a path to citizenship for many or most would be acceptable.  I did say to Republicans that if they have a serious proposal that they should “bring it.”  And I did say that if it’s a common sense proposal it could be the basis of negotiations and eventually a deal.  But we remain steadfast: any final proposal must include a path to citizenship.  Creating a permanent underclass of non-citizens is unacceptable and un-American.

We have said we are open to a House architecture – if properly constructed – numerous times before.  For example, this is from an AP story from earlier in September: “If the House wants to dis the Senate bill and come up with their own approach to the 11 million that has no special pathway to citizenship, we would be happy to work with them on a way that would meet with our bottom line, which is an inclusive, immediate path to legal status for the 11 million, and an achievable and clear path to eventual citizenship,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant group. “They can preserve the sound bite and we can have the policies that we want.”

We understand this is a subject full of coded language and nuances, and some confusion is inevitable.  But we want to be crystal clear: we have not changed our position with respect to the 11 million; we will continue fighting for reform that includes an achievable path to citizenship; and we believe there are a variety of ways to achieve this goal.