Though Congress may be trying to figure out immigration reform as a whole, the smaller facet of a pathway to citizenship for those already living here — approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants — shares a similar approach on both sides of the aisle.
A growing number of Republicans are agreeing that a path needs to be developed… so long as it’s not the path the Democrats are currently advocating.
Said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah: “There should be a pathway to citizenship — not a special pathway and not no pathway. But there has to be a legal, lawful way to go through this process that works, and right now it doesn’t.”
Congress returns from its break on Sept. 9, at which point the House has stated it will approach immigration reform through a series of bite-sized pieces of legislation, rather than the large, all-encompassing bill provided and passed by the Senate in June. However, no serious action will likely be taken by the House concerning immigration reform until November or December at the earliest, as there are certain fiscal issues that they feel must be dealt with beforehand.
Other Republicans have sounded off, not as supporting a special path to full citizenship, but instead supporting an official legal status that would protect undocumented immigrants from deportation but not grant them the full benefits of U.S. citizenship.
“It’s not a bill I can support. We think a legal status in the United States, but not a special pathway to citizenship, might be appropriate,” said Bob Goodlatte, a Republican representative from Virginia.
But more and more Republicans in the house are starting to see the benefits of a quick path toward citizenship for those here now. And as immigration reform hits the floor, some believe that real change can come soon.
“I think there’s a lot of space there,” said Clarissa Martinez, who is the director of civic engagement and immigration at the National Council of La Raza. “And that’s why I’m optimistic that once they start grappling more with details, that’s when things start getting more real.”