House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte provided some new hints about how House Republicans plan to tackle immigration in a packet provided to colleagues offering instruction on how to talk about the issue over the August recess.
The document, obtained by National Review Online, includes a summary of all of the piece-by-piece bills that have been reported out of the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. But its most newsworthy section is about a bill that hasn’t been written:
House Republicans are currently discussing a way forward on how to provide legal status to unlawful immigrants living in our country. However, the current unlawful immigrant population is diverse, so the solutions may vary. For example, while some knowingly broke our immigration laws, others were brought illegally to the U.S. As children by their parents. These children came here through no fault of their own and many of them know no other home than the United States.
Unlike the Senate immigration bill, we should not create a special pathway to citizenship for those who knowingly broke our immigration laws. It’s unfair to those who have waited in line and followed our immigration rules to create an entirely new, currently non-existent path to citizenship for those who knowingly broke our immigration laws. The Senate bill also provides legalization before border security. However, it is imperative that we secure our border and enforce our immigration laws first.
This is not exactly a new idea – Goodlatte has talked before about allowing illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship through the same process that non-resident foreigners have available. But up until now the idea has been something informally floated at town halls, and its inclusion in a document like this shows the GOP is getting closer to putting forth legislation on the topic.
A talking point offered in another section underscores that providing legalization is definitely a core part of Goodlatte’s plans: “Any immigration reform proposal must first strengthen border security and the enforcement of our immigration laws, improve our legal immigration programs, and find a way to fairly deal with those living unlawfully in the U.S.”
The recess packet also includes a list of the top ten concerns with the Senate Gang of Eight’s bill. The first: that it’s unconstitutional because it raised revenues and didn’t originate in the House, where, according to the Constitution, all tax bills must begin. The list calls the Corker-Hoeven amendment “hardly a border surge,” rips the interior enforcement provisions of the bill, and says the bill, championed by Senators Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer, “contains a slush fund for liberal activist groups.”