Immigration reform looks to have finally made it to the priority list on the GOP agenda as Republican party leadership actively works on a plan promoting legalization and a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
The effort is critical as the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have largely been at an impasse on immigration reform. As DREAMers and others increasingly assert their political will around the issue, Republicans are stepping up to the demand by developing a proposal that would bring current efforts out of stalemate status and into actionable legislation.
“We’re trying to find a way to give the members of the House a way to see how all these things would work in our step by step approach. … Finding a way to build that consensus is critical,” Bob Goodlatte, House Judiciary Committee Chairman told Spanish-language television network Telemundo.
While Republicans’ willingness to address immigration reform is welcome news to activists, the task ahead still holds plenty of challenges. The Senate, which passed a reform bill in June last year, proposed a tripling of legal immigration over the next decade by awarding green cards to 33 million immigrants and work permits to around 13 million guest workers. Instead of addressing the bill during the 2013 session, Republicans avoided the legislation, adjourning for the winter break and postponing a vote until this year.
“We have to have something where a sizable majority of Republicans can support it,” Rep. Goodlatte said.
At the heart of the Republican proposal, which Rep. Goodlatte and other Republican leaders are still working out, is a kind of provisional legal status that would lead to a green card for undocumented immigrants. The Republican proposal works within the existing immigration system with green card sponsorship based on a family member or employer.
As the 2014 legislative session gets underway, Republican leadership’s positive approach to immigration reform is encouraging.