There is a consensus among most political observers that immigration reform will be on the agenda for the House in 2014. However, an essential question remains unanswered: where is the House Republicans’ specific immigration proposal?
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said this past weekend, “If the Democrats are willing to come halfway, I think we can pass some meaningful reform.” Well, it’s hard to measure halfway when the House GOP hasn’t even provided a starting point.
According to Frank Sharry of America’s Voice:
You can’t dance without a partner. The House Republicans must come up with a serious approach and put it on the table for discussion. It must deal head on with 11 million undocumented immigrants and be capable of attracting sufficient votes from House Republicans and House Democrats. Until Republicans ante up and introduce legislation, we’re stuck wondering—where’s the beef?
There is much talk about how the House intends to take a different approach to immigration reform than the Senate. For example, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) often says that House Republicans are interested in an approach to the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America that provides legal status to most and a citizenship option for those who qualify under existing channels – as long as there is no “special pathway” to citizenship for those legalized.
Advocates are often asked, could we live with such a proposal? Our answer: until we see such a proposal detailed, it’s impossible to say. We have been clear from the beginning that our priority is an inclusive path to initial legal status and an achievable path to eventual citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America. Can we imagine ways to achieve these objectives through an architecture based on the comments by Chairman Goodlatte? Yes, but we can’t negotiate with newspaper articles and quotes. We need to see written legislative proposals from House Republicans, followed by good-faith negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. Then, and only then, will we be able to determine whether what the House Republicans are prepared to offer serves as a basis for a breakthrough or not.