EDITORIAL: GOP's border of denial

Is immigration reform on its last legs in the House?

The Fresno BeeJuly 13, 2013 

To see how far out of the mainstream the House Republican caucus has fallen, look at immigration reform.

Even conservatives such as Grover Norquist have urged the House to pass reform that "secures our borders, allows for a market-driven future flow of legal immigrants, and provides a tough but humane process to earned legal status for those undocumented immigrants who wish to stay in the United States and continue to be productive members of society."

Yet House Republicans coming out of a caucus meeting on Wednesday were unified in saying that the Senate immigration bill that passed on a bipartisan 68-to-32 vote last month is a "non-starter." It will not get a vote in the House because it includes a path to citizenship for 11 million people who are in the country illegally.

Instead, Congressman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, is authoring an enforcement-only bill. No discussion of legalization or citizenship. It also would allow states to determine their own immigration laws.

Gowdy denounces what he calls "immediate citizenship" for 11 million illegal immigrants "all at once before you do anything else."

Has he read the Senate bill?

There is no immediate citizenship for anybody. Under the Senate bill, about 800,000 children who were brought illegally by their parents (so-called "DREAM Act kids") and 1 million agricultural workers would have a path to permanent legal status -- a green card -- and eventual citizenship if they seek it.

Under the Senate bill the other 9 million would apply for "provisional" (temporary) legal status and work authorization after paying fines and back taxes.

Only when existing lines have been dealt with would they be able to apply for a green card. That's a path to citizenship of 15 to 20 years.

That's because the existing "line" is 4.4 million people long -- due to limited numbers of visas. How does such a long process for existing lawful immigrants, much less the 11 million in the country illegally, meet the aim of integrating immigrants into the American mainstream?

The House Republican caucus alone simply is not making viable proposals that can get to the president's desk by the end of summer. It seems they want the issue to linger for the 2014 elections. Better to have some real accomplishment to bring to voters. Americans already have waited far too long for an immigration overhaul.

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