In a bad sign for reform, the Republican chairman of the House’s immigration policy committee told a conservative radio host Monday that he opposes a path to citizenship even for young documented people brought to the United States as children, often referred to as DREAMers.
House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told Hugh Hewitt that he would prioritize giving legal status to children who had been brought to the country illegally, but would stop short of giving them a path to citizenship.
“If you were to do something, I would start first of all with children who were brought here illegally by their parents. They’ve grown up here. They’ve been educated here. They are ready to face the world and they have no documents. I think there’s a more compelling argument to be made for them,” he said. “But, even for them, I would say that they get a legal status in the United States and not a pathway to citizenship that is created especially for them. In other words, they get that legal status if they have an employer who says I’ve got a job which I can’t find a U.S. citizen and I want to petition for them, ah, they can do that, but I wouldn’t give them the pathway to a Green Card and ultimately citizenship based simply on their entering the country illegally.”
Some kind of bipartisan agreement on citizenship status for so-called DREAMers has long been considered one of the easier-to-achieve elements of comprehensive immigration reform, but Goodlatte’s comments cast doubt on whether even that provision is within reach.
Of all the things that the Congress and the White House could have accomplished this year that would have actually meant something — as opposed to re-naming some forty-plus post offices — immigration reform was supposed to be the one. The bill that came out of the Senate was basically what everyone — Democrats, Republicans, business, labor — all said was the start of something that would have led to real reform. Even the House looked like it would pass the bill; if not exactly as written, then with room to make a reasonable compromise.
But that’s where it hit the wall: “reasonable compromise.” House Speaker John Boehner won’t bring it to the floor for fear of looking like he’s caving to the center, and as the 2014 campaign moves out of first gear, any chance of moving to the passage of the bill fades into the background. As Greg Sargent notes, it looks like the GOP figures they’ve got nothing to lose, so why bother? It’s not like the Hispanics were going to vote for them in the first place, and that’s all that really matters anyway.