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Quotes Supporting and Opposing Immigration Reform: Members of House and Senate

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Updated March 22, 2013 | Download PDF here

Since the 2012 election, leading Republican and conservative voices are calling for a new Republican approach to immigration, as evidenced by the following quotes:

Quotes by U.S. Senators and House Members

Since the announcement of a framework for comprehensive immigration reform by the ‘Gang of Eight’ group of Senators, fellow colleagues in the Senate have weighed in on their support/opposition to comprehensive immigration reform:

Senators Supportive of Immigration Reform

  • Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) told ABC News: “There are many miles to go before we get this done … But I have a feeling that … we’re going to have a big bipartisan vote for this in the end. My sense is that people are more optimistic than they’ve been in 20 years about addressing this problem.”
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told Politico: “I think this group of people came together in a way that they haven’t before in 2007. I’m very optimistic we can do something … I want to get there, I want to support this.”
  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) told NPR: “He [Rubio] is so knowledgeable about this issue … I’m glad to see somebody with his background step forward and say it’s important and we need to look at it.”
  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), as reported by The Washington Post: “We are dealing with the question of the 11 million people paying their taxes, having a path to legalization and, then, ultimately, to citizenship — tough issues, but we are coming together and I think we can do it.”
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Meet the Press: “We have 11 million people in this country that need a pathway to citizenship,” Durbin said. “I hope that Republicans in the House and Mr. Cantor will embrace that as part of immigration reform.”
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) expressed cautious optimism on the Gang of Eight’s bi-partisan immigration reform framework, reports the Huffington Post: “We have a long way to go, some tough issues ahead of us, and I’m sure there will be some obstacles in the path … But the good faith effort that’s being put into this absolutely is encouraging to me and gives me hope.”
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told the New York Times regarding the timing of immigration reform: “Our timing is right… The election results are still fresh in the minds of my Republican colleagues and they don’t want to go through this again.”
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the Arizona Republic: “This isn’t all going to be done in one day, either,” Flake said. “It’s going to take a while for some of these things.”
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told Politico: “These are people who wanted to provide for their family and wanted a better life. We’ve got to have a secure border. But we’ve also, we’ve got to act compassionately and recognize labor markets as well. … I’ve never thought that it’s [path to citizenship] a bad thing. If somebody is going to be here for 20, 30 years, to give them some skin in the game, if you will, to hold out the prospect of citizenship.”
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told ABC News: “I’m also particularly pleased that there is bipartisan support to include the input of border communities. Not only will security be strengthened according to Washington, D.C., but border communities will have a say as well.”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as reported by Bloomberg: “There will never be a bill without a pathway to citizenship signed by the president…And in turn there will never be a pathway to citizenship without a new immigration system replacing the current one.”
  • Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), on Jeb Bush’s proposal against a pathway to citizenship, as reported by The Washington Post: “From a policy point of view, I don’t think it’s the right approach. I don’t like the idea of having millions of people here for their entire life without being able to assimilate into America…From a political point of view, we’ve got 55 Democrats sent and a 72 percent support for a path to citizenship. It’s just not practical to think we’ll be able to pass any bill in the United States Senate without a path to citizenship.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told an audience at the Easley Rotary Club: “When it comes to immigration reform, now is the time … I’ve never seen a better political environment … I’m not doing immigration reform to solve the Republican Party’s political problem. I’m trying to save our nation from, I think, a shortage of labor and a catastrophic broken system.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the News-Observer on the question of chances immigration reform will pass: “I am confident – very confident – that if I help solve this problem in a way that we won’t have 20 million illegal immigrants 20 years from now, not only will I get re-elected, I can look back and say I was involved in something that was important.”

  • Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) told Politico: “I’ve always been for immigration reform; in 2007 I just didn’t feel it had enough protections.”
  • Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) told  members of Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, as reported in Reporter Newspaper, “I do feel immigration will probably be dealt with as long as [the solution] doesn’t provide amnesty … Five years ago, all hell broke loose … This year, I thought phones would ring off the hook again. They really haven’t. I think everybody realizes we have a problem.”
  • Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) told the New York Times:  “I’d like something that faces reality. We have 12 million people in this country that are undocumented — that’s a reality. It’s not going to be like they’re all going to leave. One of the reasons I’m holding this hearing in the morning is to hear from somebody who actually understands what’s involved here — Janet Napolitano — and I hope that from what she says and what we hear from her, we can start building some consensus.” … “I intend to have protections for the L.G.B.T. community in there. I’m not going to make choices between that community and the non-L.G.B.T. community.”
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, according to the Associated Press,: “In my view it is time to pass a good bill, a fair bill, a comprehensive bill … Too many have been waiting too long for fairness.”
  • Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), in a joint statement after meeting with President Obama as reported by The Arizona Republic: “We were pleased to hear the President state his firm commitment that he will do whatever is necessary to accomplish this important goal.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told Candy Crowley on State of the Union: “Just because they broke the law doesn’t mean they’re condemned forever to a twilight status … I believe that most Americans feel that for these people who have come illegally, as long as they pay back taxes, pay a fine, learn English and get behind everybody else, that’s a key element of it. And most Americans now realize we can’t have 11 million people sit in the twilight, the shadows of America, forever.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded to criticism of immigration reform as ‘amensty’ on Fox News Sunday:Well, I don’t think it is amnesty to start with. Second of all, what do you want to do with them? That is the question in response and third of all, it is a tough path to citizenship, you have to pay back tax and learn English and have to have a clear record and get to the back of the line behind to the people who have come here legally or waiting legally. So, i just reject that.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told the Arizona Republic: “It’s the only way that I see that it can be done,” McCain said. “Obviously, it has failed in the past, but I also notice there is a somewhat changed attitude on the part of the American people about this issue.”

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on ABC’s “This Week,” “We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were born here — who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows, as well… What’s changed, honestly, is that there is a new appreciation on both sides of the aisle, maybe more importantly on the Republican side, that we need to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said at a Politico breakfast: “If you have a large bloc of Americans who believe you’re trying to keep their … fellow Hispanics down and deprive them of an opportunity, obviously that’s going to have an effect…The Republican Party has failed to understand to a significant degree the importance of this issue to our Hispanic voters.  I think the trend will continue of lack of support from Hispanic voters and also as you look at the demographics of states like mine, that means we will go from Republican to Democrat over time.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) writes in an Arizona Capitol Times op-ed: “Immigration and border security remain critical issues that I am committed to addressing this year.  The good news is that illegal immigration is at an all-time low, making now the time to dedicate the needed technology and resources to finally secure the border for good.  As border security improves, I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to fix our broken immigration system and address the millions of people living in the United States outside of legal status.”
  • Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told HuffPost Live: “We have a ways to go here, but elections have consequences … I think that our Republican colleagues, the Republican National Party, understands this is our new demographic in America as a result of the election. I think they understand if they want to be a national party, they’re going to have to deal with this issue. For Latinos and other immigrants, this is the civil rights issue of our time.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), as reported by Roll Call: “Let’s start that conversation by acknowledging we aren’t going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants. If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), as reported by The New York Times: “After ensuring border security, I then would normalize the status of 11 million undocumented citizens so they can join the work force and pay taxes…I would normalize them at a rate of about two million per year.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), as reported by Buzzfeed: “We should be proud that so many want to come to America, that it is still seen as the land of opportunity. Let’s make it a land of legal work, not black-market jobs. Let’s make it a land of work, not welfare. Our land should be one of assimilation, not hiding in the shadows.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), as reported by Roll Call: “America’s strength has always been that we are a melting pot with room for those who dare to dream…I’ve seen firsthand what it is like for new immigrants in Texas. I’ve never met a new immigrant looking for a free lunch. The question is: How do we now reflect this in our 21st century immigration policy?… Unfortunately, like many of the major debates in Washington, immigration has become a stalemate — where both sides are imprisoned by their own rhetoric or attachment to sacred cows that prevent the possibility of a balanced solution…Republicans need to give birth to a new attitude toward immigrants, an attitude that sees immigrants as assets not liabilities.”
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), as reported by The Associated Press: “Let’s start that conversation by acknowledging we aren’t going to deport” the millions already here…Prudence, compassion and thrift all point us toward the same goal: bringing these workers out of the shadows and into becoming and being taxpaying members of society…Immigration reform will not occur until conservative Republicans, like myself, become part of the solution. I am here today to begin that conversation and to be part of the solution…In order to bring conservatives to this cause, however, those who work for reform must understand that a real solution must ensure that our borders are secure…My plan will not grant amnesty or move anyone to the front of the line…But what we have now is de facto amnesty.”
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said in Politico, “I’m in favor of telling the 11 million people who are here, if you’re willing to work, we’re willing to find a way to normalize your presence here…Whether normalize means citizenship, I think depends on whether or not we’re going to have a secure border…I’m not sure the politics of this are really simple, or I know exactly what the politics of this are, particularly in a primary — I’m not sure it makes that much a difference…In a general election, I think, obviously we do need to show the Latino public that we are concerned about their status.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) came out in support of the Gang of Eight immigration reform framework, reports the Huffington Post: “I have been advocating these principles for years, and I’m pleased that the bipartisan framework of the bill meets that criteria … President Obama has made immigration reform his top priority, and it’s my top priority,” he added. “I’m committed to getting this bipartisan issue that we now have before us over the finish line.”
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) laid out his immigration principles in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “They would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check…They would be fingerprinted…They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they’ve been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country…They’d get behind everybody who came before them [in line for citizenship].”
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Candy Crowley on State of the Union It’s obvious that if a Democrat, the president or anyone else, puts out what they want on their own, it’s going to be different than when you have a bipartisan agreement,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But the only way we’re going to get something done is with a bipartisan agreement.”
  • Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told the New York Times: “I think on this issue more than any other we’re going to see sort of a bipartisan longing to get something done, and hopefully you’re not going to find the fisticuffs that you would find on lots of other issues. I think you’ll be able to glean a sense of progress without us revealing the specifics.”
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Politico that success of immigration reform rests on bi-partisan supported framework: “I’m not sure we will have every single Democrat … but we want a large number of Republicans to be able to vote for this bill because we think that will encourage the House not only to move forward but to pass a bill.”
  • Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) told Politico regarding former Minority Leader Trent Lott in 2007: “[it] may have hastened his move to the private sector because there was such an outpouring of bitter criticism…The result, if this is successful, will not be much different from what Sen. Lott and others were trying to enact back then…It may be that we are all just older and wiser.”

Senators Opposed to Immigration Reform

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told the Associated Press,: “I do not believe the border is secure and I still believe we have a long, long way to go.”
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told the Dallas Morning News he did not agree with the Gang of Eight’s immigration blueprint because “I don’t support an amnesty.” The author of the article continues, “(Cornyn) demands an ongoing focus on security and workplace enforcement before considering steps to grant legal status, let alone citizenship.”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told Politico that “he had ‘deep concerns’ with the pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants under consideration by the group, calling it ‘profoundly unfair’ to legal immigrants”.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) expressed his concerns over the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform framework, as reported in the Washington Post: “I appreciate the good work that senators in both parties have put into trying to fix our broken immigration system. There are some good elements in this proposal, especially increasing the resources and manpower to secure our border and also improving and streamlining legal immigration. However, I have deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship. To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally.”
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) announced his opposition to the current framework as proposed by the Gang of Eight, as compiled by Talking Points Memo: “These guidelines contemplate a policy that will grant special benefits to illegal immigrants based on their unlawful presence in the country,” said Lee in a statement. “Reforms to our complex and dysfunctional immigration system should not in any way favor those who came here illegally over the millions of applicants who seek to come here lawfully … Additionally, the framework carves out a special exception for agricultural workers that has little justification. Maintaining the safety of America’s food supply is an important goal, but it is unclear why immigrants in this sector should achieve special status over skilled workers in industries equally important to the American economy.”
  • Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), as reported by The New York Times: “Because a person chooses to leave their home country and come to the United States does not necessarily mean they have the right to demand that their father or their other extended family members be allowed to come if they don’t otherwise meet the standard.”
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL.) told the Wall Street Journal: “We know that a ready amnesty tends to be an invitation to more illegal entries.”
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL.) told the Washington Post: “There’s a lot of overconfidence about this bill. We’re going to expose it. It will not pass.”
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said on the Senate floor: “You’re not supposed to be admitted to America if you’re likely to be a charge on the public – if you’re going to need government aid to take care of yourself … It [2006 immigration bill] failed because it did not do what it said it would do… End the illegality first. Then we can wrestle with how to treat compassionately people who have been in America for a long time.”
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told Voice of America his idea of a successful immigration system: “We believe that people should wait their time, and people should be able to be accepted here – over a million a year – in an orderly process, not a disorderly process, and that we should not be rewarding those who violate the law, and making even harder for those who try to comply with the law.”
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told AZ Central: “Amnesty will not help balance our budget … In fact, a large-scale amnesty is likely to add trillions of dollars to the debt over time, accelerate Medicare’s and Social Security’s slide into insolvency and put enormous strain on our public-assistance programs.”
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) told host Laura Ingraham on the Laura Ingraham radio show: “I love and respect Marco. I think he’s just amazingly naïve on this issue. This is the same old formula that we’ve dealt with before, including when it passed in 1986, and that is promises of enforcement and immediate amnesty. And, of course, the promises of enforcement never materialized and the amnesty happens immediately. As soon as you give [illegal immigrants] legal status, they are here legally forever, and probably they’re citizens pretty darn soon thereafter … And if Marco thinks no matter what happens or doesn’t happen on the enforcement side, that … that’s not going to happen, I just think he’s nuts.”
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) stated his opposition to the Gang of Eight immigration reform framework on the Senate floor, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times: “We have history as a guide, and history suggests that this brand of comprehensive reform … is a recipe for failure.”

Quotes by U.S. House Members

Since the announcement of a framework for comprehensive immigration reform by the ‘Gang of Eight’ group of Senators, fellow colleagues in the House have weighed in on their support/opposition to comprehensive immigration reform:

House Members Supportive of Immigration Reform

  • Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) told National Journal: There seems to be a lot of momentum behind immigration reform,” Amash said, counting himself among a growing group of conservatives who are coming around to the idea. “I think something substantial will pass out of the House at some point during this term.”
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) told Talking Points Memo: “Gotta have safety at our borders. We’re a sovereign nation, gotta protect our borders. Make sure the workplace doesn’t become a magnet for folks to be hired without the authorization. And then let’s be realistic and sensible about how we approach all those folks who made America their home, established businesses, have children who have gone on to be valedictorians at their high school – and let’s do these things in a very sensible way.”
  • House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) told NBC News: Bringing up legislation like the DREAM Act “worthy of consideration.”
  • House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) offered optimism in passing comprehensive immigration reform, as reported by The Hill: “It is my hope that I can stand before you in two years and report back that our side, as well as the president’s, found within us the ability to set differences aside, to provide relief to so many millions of Americans who simply want their life to work again.”
  • House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered in an address in support of the Dream Act, as reported by Huffington Post: “A good place to start is with the kids …  One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.”
  • House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered in an address, as reported by NBC News: ”It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.”
  • Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX), as reported by Politico: “I still believe the momentum is there to accomplish comprehensive immigration reform, and I think there is a bipartisan coalition that would pass right now, a pathway to citizenship if Speaker Boehner lets it come to the floor.”
  • Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), as reported by Fox News Latino: “It’s different when you talk about immigration in the abstract… It’s very different when you sit in front of a family, and [undocumented] children who grew up in this country, and who go to the same school you once went to… They thought if we only enforce the law, people will self-deport… It’s not going to happen. The solution is not the status quo, or deportation when you’re talking about breaking up families.”
  • Rep. Mike Coffman (D-CO) told a crowd, as reported by the Denver Post: “At a church in Aurora on Sunday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman told a standing-room-only crowd of roughly 800 that he was in favor of legal status for illegal immigrants and a path to citizenship for their children. Coffman, a Republican who has proposed anti-immigration legislation in the past, said his change in stance was personal because of interaction with various families. Coffman previously has proposed legislation that would force Colorado’s ballots to be English-only and supported a bill to strip natural-born citizenship from children of illegal immigrants.”
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) told The Hill on immigration reform progress: “I am now more sure than ever that we’re going to have a bipartisan bill … making incredible progress.”
  • Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) told MSNBC: “If you look at failed immigration systems — you look at the German immigration system, you look at the French system where people don’t become French, they don’t become German, they are Turks who live in Germany or they become Muslims who live in Paris … The reality is we need full Americans. These folks work hard. They take care of our children. They pick our fields. They work in the most difficult jobs and what we need to do is make them pay their back taxes, make them learn English, get them in the back of the line and at the end they get the great benefit, bounty of being an American citizen.”
  • Representative Louis Gohmert (R-TX), as reported by US News & World Report: “We do need a complete revitalization of the immigration services. It is a disaster. It is not performing like it should…I hope we can get an agreement, but we have to secure the border … otherwise you create another magnet to suck more people in illegally and then you have to do this issue again.”
  • Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told a panel during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing: “A guest worker program should help farmers who are willing to pay a fair wage for law-abiding, dependable workers — not punish them … And for this reason I support replacing the H-2A program and implementing new policies that will bring our illegal agricultural workers out of the shadows, as a first step in the process of overhauling our nation’s immigration system.”
  • Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told an audience at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast event: Once you have that status you can qualify like anyone else, it seems to me … Having a system where if you have an unlawful status and then you have another opportunity, whether it’s employment based or whether it’s family based to be able to legalize your status in the future those are good opportunities you can address .. If you would address some kind of reform of that aspect of it, you can avail people of an opportunity that they don’t have now … I do have concerns about a lot of the different proposals I’ve seen and rather than negotiate those concerns in public, I think its better to let the process work and see what kind of consensus we can develop.”
  • Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said in a release, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel: “The time for common-sense immigration reform is now,” Grayson said in a news release. “We must set forth a straightforward route to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants who already live in our communities, work for our businesses and want to give back to the country that they call home.”
  • Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), as reported by McClatchy Newspapers: “I will argue until my last breath for a pathway to citizenship that is quick and efficient because I want to end this chapter. I want to end it…But let me say, conversely, I am as committed as any Republican to ending illegal immigration as we know it…They want to end it. So do I.”
  • Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said in a release, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel: The politics, policies, the President [Barack Obama] and the American people are all pointing in the right direction to fix our immigration system and pass legislation this year.”
  • Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV), as reported by ABC News/Univision: “As Dr. King said, an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It is that creed of the civil rights movement that still motivates us today…So today, we take up the cause of joining arms with our immigrant brothers and sisters in that spirit… to lend a hand to those who confront injustice as a result of a broken immigration system.”
  • Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC), as reported by McClatchy Newspapers: “My position has always been that we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform. We’ve got to fix the system across the board. . . . Then we can deal with folks like yourself who are here undocumented, and we have to do that with compassion.”
  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-FL) told US News & World Report’s Lauren Fox: According to Fox, Rep. Issa “told reporters Wednesday he can support a pathway to citizenship for some of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and that he actually prefers it to a plan that would create a second-class of citizens through alternative programs.”  Fox quotes Issa saying, “I support the framework that the bipartisan group of senators are working on…We have to remember the 11 million people who are here are people…[i]t’s what Abraham Lincoln would have said, it is what the Republican Party stands for.  It is the reason we have to get it right on who stays and who goes.”
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Huffington Post: “I wouldn’t underestimate the House’s ability to pass the immigration bill … I think we have plenty of ideas on that, and I think there’s an opportunity that we can move the ball as well.”
  • Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) told Politico: “We can’t really have a serious debate about reform on immigration if we don’t have operational control of the border. … With the executive order out there, with the urgency of the threat, I think it’s very likely that we’ll get something passed, later this year.”
  • Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as reported by The Hill: “The good news is that we really do think that … on the immigration issue, that we will, before summer, have comprehensive immigration reform.”
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told The Huffington Post: “I don’t think [the DREAM Act is] what we should settle for now, because what does that do to a Dreamer family? If you’re a dreamer, now you’re OK. Now what about your parents who brought you here? You’ve just outed them, right? Now what’s going to happen to them? In my view, they should have a path to citizenship too. I think really we get ourselves into a mess if we just don’t clearly say: We’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform. We’re going to control our borders. That’s our sovereign right to do as a country. We’re going to protect workers. That means, make sure that there’s not exploitation of domestic workers or incoming workers. And family unification has always been really important to us. And, of course, that includes same-sex marriage families — I don’t know how we can get that done now, but it shouldn’t be the reason a bill doesn’t pass. And then, the path to citizenship. That’s who we are as a country.”
  • Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), told ABC’s “This Week” of his support for a pathway to citizenship as reported by Talking Points Memo: “Yes, absolutely because we think there is a way to do this through earned legalization without rewarding people who have come in with undocumented status, illegally. We don’t want to give them an advantage over those who came here legally and we think that there’s a way to do this while still respecting the rule of law. It’s clear that what the President is talking about does not do that…”
  • Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), as reported by Talking Points Memo: “Partial legalization, as some are suggesting, is a dangerous path, and we need only look at France and Germany to see how unwise it is to create a permanent underclass.”

House Members Opposed to Immigration Reform

  • Rep. Spencer Bacchus (R-AL) said during a House hearing, as reported by the New York Times: “When you take comprehensive, then we’re dealing with certain issues like full citizenship … And whatever else we disagree on, I think we would agree on that that’s a more toxic and contentious issue, granting full amnesty.”
  • Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) told the Huffington Post: “You wouldn’t replace your carpet at home if you still had a hole in the roof…We’re talking about any time you start waving a carrot such as American citizenship without securing the borders, that number [of undocumented immigrants] that we have today I believe will double or triple.”
  • Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) told the Morning Call: “It’s amnesty that America can’t afford. We have to stop people from coming in illegally. This will be a green light for anyone who wants to come to America illegally and then be granted citizenship one day… The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on.”
  • Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) told Politico: “All I can tell you is what I see at home: a lot of lessons learned from ’86. That, ‘OK, we’ll go one-time amnesty and after that we’ll really be good.’ But nobody believes it this time, nobody believes it.”
  • Representative John Carter (R-TX) told The Christian Post: “Our bill does not grant any fast track to citizenship for anyone who has broken the law… very, very close to having a finished product next week… built in consequences for breaking the law, and an indirect path to citizenship… We set out to be law enforcers, but we are also trying to come up with a compassionate [plan] dealing with the human beings that are involved… Nothing will happen until we are confident that the border is secure… We are not rewarding people for breaking the law, but we took into consideration that this is dealing with people, not numbers, and families, not categories.”
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told NPR: “People have a pathway to citizenship right now: It’s to abide by the immigration laws, and if they have a family relationship, if they have a job skill that allows them to do that, they can obtain citizenship,” Mr. Goodlatte told NPR. “But simply someone who broke the law, came here, say, ‘I’ll give you citizenship now,’ that I don’t think is going to happen.”
  • Representative Steve King (R-IA), as reported by Buzzfeed: “So I think there’s going to be a constituent backlash against this thing soon, as they see it moving in that direction…Whether they can pass something before the American public wakes up, I don’t know.”
  • Representative Steve King (R-IA), as reported by Buzzfeed: “Even Republicans seem to think that these undocumented Democrats could be made [GOP] voters…and what happens is that two out every three that would be legalized [and] become Democrats. And it’s not 12 million. It’s more like 20 million…But it isn’t just the equation of 2/3 of over 20 million that will vote for the guy who opposes our conservative candidate whoever that might be, but it’s also those who will leave us if we fail them…We have to go back and tie together and restore the pillars of American exceptionalism and the rule of law is essential.”
  • Representative Steve King (R-IA), as reported by Politico: “I thought that conclusion that we leaped to right after the election, that has been disproven statistically so many times, I don’t know why Republicans would advocate that advocating for comprehensive immigration reform is somehow a political solution for the Republicans losing a percentage of Hispanics. I probably have less appetite for this than either the Senate or colleagues in the House, certainly the Democrats and most likely members of the Republican Conference. They are still wrestling with trying to get their education up to a level where they can actually advocate for policy.”
  • Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID), as reported by The Wall Street Journal: “A special pathway to citizenship is off the table… when I talk to members of the group in the Senate, they’re saying that we’re both saying the same thing.”
  • Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told Roll Call: “Any new pathway to citizenship is completely off the table … [Illegal immigrants should be able to get citizenship] the same way as any other immigrant has to do it … You have to apply for legal permanent residence, be it family-based or employment-based. You shouldn’t be treated worse than the people doing it the right way, but I think it would be unconscionable for us to treat them better than the people who are doing it the right way.”
  • Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told NPR: “The people that came here illegally knowingly – I don’t think they should have a path to citizenship …  If you knowingly violated our law, you violated our sovereignty, I think we should normalize your status but we should not give you a pathway to citizenship … Some people are calling it a blue card or a red card … I think we should treat them with dignity, but we should also be fair to millions of people that are waiting in line, that are trying to do it the right way. … We have a large majority of the House of Representatives that wants to do something right now … If they want a political victory they’re going to draw a fine red line and they’re going to say, either a pathway to citizenship or nothing else … They know that the Republicans in the House are not going to be able to vote for that, and then they’re going to be able to beat us over the head in 2014, and say, look, the Republicans don’t like immigrants. Which is not true … This is not about politics … In fact, as Republicans we need to understand that we’re not going to get any benefit from fixing the immigration system. I think the Democrats at this point, because you have the president who’s in power, are going to get all the accolades. We just need to do this because it’s the right thing to do.”
  • Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM), told Fox News Latino: “A pathway to legalization is amnesty…President Bush tried to do that, and President Reagan too. It tells people ‘You just get here and we’ll fix it eventually.’”
  • Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said in a statement, as reported by NPR: “Extending amnesty to those who came here illegally or overstayed their visas is dangerous waters…We are a nation of laws, and I will evaluate any proposal through that matrix.”
  • Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), on the Gang of Eight’s set of principles as reported by the National Journal: it would “cost Americans their jobs when they have to compete with millions of more [immigrants] for scarce jobs.”
  • Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said to the Washington Times: “American taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill for the overwhelming costs of amnesty. Under current law, once 11 million illegal immigrants receive probationary status, they will immediately have access to federal benefits like Social Security and Obamacare coverage. If we thought we had a problem with government spending before, just wait,” he said.