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Why Does Bob Goodlatte Want to Scuttle DREAMs, And Why Do Boehner & Cantor Want to Let Him?

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In an interview today with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) made it clear that his opposition to a path to citizenship extends to DREAMers – young Americans in all but their paperwork.  Said Goodlatte:

But, even for them, I would say that they get a legal status in the United States and not a pathway to citizenship that is created especially for them.  In other words, they get that legal status if they have an employer who says I’ve got a job which I can’t find a U.S. citizen and I want to petition for them, ah, they can do that, but I wouldn’t give them the pathway to a Green Card and ultimately citizenship based simply on their entering the country illegally.

Rep. Goodlatte’s comments, coming on the heels of his signals that he is prepared to “get to no” on overall reform, place him in conflict with Republican House leaders such as Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), both of whom have championed special treatment for DREAMers.  As Rep. Cantor stated in late July, “These, in many instances, are kids without a country if we don’t allow them to become full citizens of our country…Where else would these kids go?”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Last night Bob Goodlatte said he doubted immigration reform legislation would pass this year and suggested that was okay with him.  Today he said he would deny an achievable and clear path to citizenship for DREAMers as well as to the 11 million.  Speaker Boehner, hasn’t he just blown it?  He’s disqualified himself from a leadership role in the immigration debate.  As a former immigration attorney, he understands that the reason DREAMers are undocumented in the first place is that they are unable, for the most part, to qualify for current family or employment visas.  Mr. Speaker, if the GOP want to put this issue behind it – and not have your Party’s brand further tarnished as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino – here’s our humble recommendations: 1) find a way forward to pass reform that can be reconciled with the Senate; 2) if it takes blowing past Rep. Goodlatte to get it done, so be it.