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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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National Immigration Leaders Discuss House State of Play and Moving the Process Forward

The pressure is on House GOP Leadership to deliver immigration principles in the coming weeks.  While we’ve heard some details about what the principles may include, the policy specifics remain vague and key questions about how the principles deal with the 11 million remain unanswered.

The next few weeks will be crucial in determining the future of the immigration debate in the House.  How Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the rest of House leadership deal with this issue will not only play an important role in defining Boehner’s legacy as House speaker, but more importantly it will play a critical role in defining the future of the Republican Party nationally.

Said Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress (CAP):

We’ve heard so much about what Republicans won’t do on immigration. Now it’s time for them to tell the American people what they will do. Congress was epically dysfunctional in 2013, and delays on immigration reform have been just one of many casualties of that dysfunction. That House Republican leadership is now taking the bull by the horns and drafting a set of principles is itself significant. The only way immigration reform was ever going to work was for Republican leadership, not the House Judiciary Committee, to drive the process and engage Democrats for a bill that can actually pass the House. We can’t be sure what exactly the principles will say and we are sure we will have some disagreements with them, and most importantly, the real action won’t come until the principles have been translated into a bill. But this is the most promising the House has looked in some time. America has frankly waited too long for action on immigration reform, and we look forward to House Republican leadership completing the rest of the process so we can finally get this done.

Speakers on today’s call one again reemphasized their “must haves” in the legalization component of the GOP’s principles and explained how the current framework suggested by Republicans could potentially lead to the ultimate goal of legalization for all and achievable citizenship for millions.

“Our families deserve, and we will not stop fighting for, immediate legal status that lifts the fear of deportation, provides work permits to members of our community, allows people to travel freely, and keeps families together,” said Lorella Praeli, Advocacy and Policy Director at United We Dream.  “We’ll push Congress to pass legislation that provides legalization while demanding an opportunity to become citizens and to finally come to a permanent solution that would provide full protection and inclusion for our community.”

While there’s been much chatter surrounding what may or may not be included in the House GOP’s principles, there’s been little in the way of clarity or action.

As Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said:

In the last few months of 2013, the question was whether or not House Republicans were going to move forward on immigration reform.  Now it’s clear that Republican leadership has decided that they are going forward and they are going for it.  The next step?  We have to see whether Republicans can rise to meet the next challenge: can they fashion a proposal, especially on the question of legalization and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, that garners enough support in their caucus for a proposal that can attract enough Democratic support to get the 218 votes needed for passage?  If Republicans want to know what will work for us, we have been clear from the beginning: we want an inclusive path to initial legal status for all and an achievable path to eventual citizenship for those that get legalized.  Can that be accomplished without a ‘special’ path to citizenship?  Yes, but God and the devil are in the details.

For a recording of today’s call, click here.

For recordings and resources from prior Office Hours calls, click here.