Immigration Reform in Capitol Hill

Immigration Reform is taking center stage in Washington. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee held the first immigration hearing on the overhaul of the immigration system, which includes proposals of U.S. citizenship for 11 million undocumented people.

House Republicans seem to be open to breaking up immigration legislation into smaller bills. That way each immigration issue can be handled individually. This includes issues like the shortage of highly-skilled workers and the possibility of granting Green Cards to highly-skilled foreign students graduating from U.S. universities.

The debate centered around citizenship, however. The Chairman of the Committee, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, suggested a middle-ground or compromise between current U.S. immigration policy and a path to citizenship. He posed the following question:

“Are there options that we should consider between the extremes of mass deportation and a pathway to citizenship for those not lawfully present in the United States?”

“America is watching,” Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio said to the House Republicans. He said he sees the possibility  of a path to citizenship for the undocumented being that it would be recognized as an “earned citizenship.” Undocumented immigrants would have to learn English, pay fines and pay back taxes. This is not unlike what President Obama talked about last week in his speech on Immigration Reform.

In a meeting with leaders of immigrant rights organizations at the White House that also took place yesterday, Obama stood behind what he said in his speech. Present were organizations like the National Council of La Raza and the Center for American Progress. They told the president that their support of him largely depends on providing a pathway to citizenship.