As early as this week, Speaker of the House John Boehner is expected to release a one-page outline of the new immigration legislation from Republicans. With news that House Republicans are on board with giving legal status to over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, the immigration debate that split lawmakers right down the aisle may finally be coming to an end.
The long awaited outline will not only lay out a method of legalizing millions of immigrants, but it will represent an important step forward for immigration advocates. Immigration has divided Republicans as many called it a form of amnesty while others thought it was unrealistic. The outline is set to be released prior to the President’s State of the Union where he too is expected to address the need for immigration legislation and vows to have it taken care of this year.
Republicans will use this time to sell the idea of a path to citizenship to the few remaining outliers who do not want to compromise on immigration. “If it doesn’t lead to a pathway to citizenship, I think you will get more people to at least embrace that or be OK with that,” said Rep. Lee Terry. But he added: “It will still be a very difficult sell.”
It is yet unknown when the new bill will hit the floor, but Republicans are calling an end to their months long delay with the bill. The new principles will most likely include a system where undocumented immigrants will be able to admit their guilt and pay any fines or back taxes. They will then earn their right to work, live and travel in and out of the U.S. Border security will most likely still be a large part of the bill and other enforcement measures will need to be addressed prior to the legalization of immigrants. A large difference, unlike the Senate bill, is that immigrants will not automatically receive citizenship, but have to follow a special path and meet several specific requirements yet to be disclosed.
Lawmakers are calling this a “very special moment” for both parties and immigrants. They have been working on a bill and some sort of middle ground for the last few months and there is finally the chance that a bill will pass pulling millions out of the shadows.
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