Months ago at the start of the debate over immigration, lawmakers told the media that the difficult part of passing the immigration bill will be the inclusion of a path to citizenship. Today both parties have hit a deadlock as Democrats refuse a bill without citizenship and Republicans refuse a bill with a path to citizenship.
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Most recently, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner warning him that Democrats will not accept any sort of piecemeal approach with an omitted path to citizenship. Sen. Chuck Schumer stated “Without a path to citizenship, there is not going to be a bill.” Some Republicans who still want the bill to pass believe there is a way to include a path to citizenship as long as it has strict requirements that may be time consuming and difficult for immigrants to reach. But despite the struggle for political power that both parties are having, for most immigrants, they just want some way to attain legal status and not have to worry about being deported.
The argument about a path to citizenship is a sticking point for lawmakers, but for unauthorized immigrants, they simply want legal status. The ability to live and work in the U.S. could conceivably be attained without being a citizen. Although the younger generation of immigrants are more active and want to be a part of elections, most immigrants are not too concerned about their voting rights when they have to live in the shadows and hope they do not get deported. If they have the ability to work legally and gather money to support their families, most will not want to pay expensive fees and jump through hoops for years to attain citizenship. The solution to the immigration problem may be solved quicker if Congress focused less on a path to citizenship and more on a way to attain legal status. A new immigration bill may end up failing over a path to citizenship that many immigrants could do without.
This is not to say that eliminating the opportunity of becoming a citizen is the best option for lawmakers, but more progress could be made with the bill if both parties could move past arguing which version of the legislation they should pass and focus more on the needs of 11 million undocumented immigrants waiting for any sort of permit that will allow them to work in the U.S.
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