The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing next week on the issue of granting citizenship to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and Majority Leader Eric Cantor may introduce his bill on the topic this month.
Cantor made his most impassioned public case for the legislation yet at a press conference this morning, saying that addressing the fate of the so-called DREAMers – a reference to the DREAM Act, another bill that would afford citizenship to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — is “an issue of decency, of compassion.”
“Where else would these kids go? Again, they’ve been brought here as a minor in many instances having no idea what was going on, knowing no other place than America as home,” Cantor added.
Speaker John Boehner is also supporting the legislation. “This is about basic fairness. These children were brought here of no accord of their own. Frankly, they’re in a very difficult position and I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed,” he said.
But the issue is going to cause controversy in the GOP conference. Representative Steve King of Iowa says “it’s never the kids fault, but that’s not a reason to sacrifice the rule of law. All of us, our parents did a lot of right things, and they made some mistakes. We’re the beneficiaries of our parents’ good decisions and we pay the price of our parents’ bad decisions. So why would we exempt a class of people for that?”
House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte is also working with Cantor on the bill, but the process has been largely driven by Cantor, whose aides are drafting the bill, Republicans say.
As far as immigration action on the House floor, it looks like that is being pushed farther into the future even while leadership is publicly keeping their options open.
Leaving the press conference, Cantor told me that he and other top Republicans are still weighing whether to bring the first immigration bill, likely one that would focus only on border security, to the House floor in July. “We’re still working through that process,” he said. Immigration was also listed for potential floor action in July on a chart Cantor used in the closed-door conference meeting this morning.
But most Republicans are highly skeptical. Goodlatte told me he’s not “anticipating” it. And GOP lobbyists working on the issue are proceeding as if it has definitely been postponed to September. Insiders cite the relatively hefty workload from the bills already scheduled for the floor, making it highly unlikely Republicans would be able to get to the issue before departing for their home districts.