House Republicans last week released a list of requirements they say demonstrates their interest in reaching an agreement soon on immigration reform.
The “Standards for Immigration Reform” are the result of a debate within GOP, and are designed to serve as the guiding principles for conservatives to use to negotiate with Democrats.
Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida assured that immigration reform is a “priority” not only within his party but for the country in general. He said the current system is not good for the U.S. economy.
In a statement released last Friday, the Cuban-American legislator expressed the importance of bringing about immigration reform, and said it is “reckless to continue accepting the status quo.”
He said, “knowing that we have millions of undocumented immigrants in the shadows,” it’s “unacceptable’ to “continue providing amnesty ‘de jure’.”
Diaz-Balart said he has worked tirelessly with his colleagues to find a solution that will work to secure our borders and revitalize the American economy, and respect the rule of the law while still keeping immigrant families together.
For her part, Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called the current immigration system “dysfunctional” and said it needs to be fixed; “the sooner, the better.”
Ros-Lehtinen appeared optimistic about the objective to achieve immigration reform this year.
She told Efe hearing her Republican colleagues talk about how to develop and advance a strategy has her in “especially high spirits.”
For the congresswoman, “fundamental to the debate is that we take measures to make sure we do not confront the same situation in the future,” and to better “the situation of millions of people that live with the fear of being deported.”
North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger, however, said before anything else can be done, the country’s borders must first be secured. “This is a basic national security issue, as it is critical we know who is in our country,” he said in written statement.
“After the borders are secured and we stem the tide of illegal immigrants, further reform becomes easier to implement,’ he stated.
Pittenger said immigration reform is a complex issue, however, “it is critical we carefully consider the options and avoid unintended consequences,” he said, referring to legislation that only a “few read and less understand.”
While the draft standards released last week do not outline a pathway to citizenship, they do recognize the plight of young people brought to the country illegally:
“One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home. For those who meet certain eligibility standards, and serve honorably in our military or attain a college degree, we will do just that.”
Republicans, however, have also expressed skepticism that President Obama can be trusted on the issue.
And according to some GOP legislators, there was a visible division within the Republican Party as to whether they should continue with the legislation during am election year.
Some of the GOP’s more conservative members, like Steve King from Iowa, said the Party shouldn’t do anything to move immigration reform forward.
The released standards support the legalization of undocumented immigrants, but only after they meet certain requirements and after there has been put in place mechanisms to fulfill very specific conditions.
In a phone interview with a media outlet, Diaz-Balart affirmed that “the biggest problem” expressed by Republicans is distrust of President Obama.
Speaking on his behalf, President Obama said very clearly last Friday that in “any scenario” undocumented immigrants should have access to a path to citizenship, because he doesn’t want a situation where there are “two classes” of people in the country.