In an attempt to push immigration reform forward in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., has joined House Democrats to craft a new bill that addresses the issue. Denham is the first and only Republican to join a group of 185 Democrats working on the bill, which will provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“We can’t afford any more delays,” Denham said in a statement. “I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks.”
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act more or less mirrors the bill passed by the Senate in June. It offers a path to citizenship, and includes Denham’s ENLIST Act, which would allow certain qualified immigrants to join the U.S. Armed Forces.
Denham went on to say that the bill “makes securing the border a requirement, not a goal, and puts measurable benchmarks in place to be verified by independent sources to ensure that our border is secure.”
There are only 19 legislative days left in the 2013 congressional year, and advocates for reform are worried that a bill won’t be passed in that time. Democrats who are working on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act hope to bring more Republicans in on the effort.
“Immigration reform is an issue that transcends party, region, and industry – it affects the totality of the American family. I am glad Rep. Denham is supporting a solution the majority of Americans agree is necessary,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, told CNN. “The question now is whether more Republicans will join the 185 Democrats who have signed this bill.”
Republicans, including Rep. John Fleming, R-La., have not hidden their dissatisfaction with the bill. Fleming believes the President will only enforce the parts he favors.