House Republicans Put Forth Vague Immigration Reform Outline

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After rejecting the bipartisan immigration reform legislation that passed through the Senate in 2013 with bipartisan support and backing from business, religious, and social leaders, House Republicans have unveiled a vague, 858-word outline of their immigration reform plan on a one-page piece of paper.

This answer to Senate legislation was negotiated not across the isle or in collaboration with the White House, but amongst themselves. There is no plan or even promise of a bill, but, “These standards are as far as we are willing to go,” said Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

The upside to their ambiguous outline is that it has left a lot of room for legislative debate and some flexibility for reaching a compromise once it opens up to bipartisan discussion.

The outline he put forth is problematic in that laws are defined by their details and these principles put forth are riddled with vague and undefined details. The Republican standards vaguely outlined this border security is the first priority and “must come first,” and that paths to legalization and citizenship cannot “happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented.” What these “specific enforcement triggers” are, no one knows.

While “There will be no special path to citizenship” for adult undocumented immigrants, they would be eligible to live legally in the United States and work without threat of deportation. What “Special” means, no one knows. While “no special path to citizenship” doesn’t necessarily mean there will be no paths whatsoever, it is unclear whether their standards could include “not special” paths to citizenship.

The outline does, however, embrace ideas behind the DREAM Act, which includes opportunities for undocumented minors and young people brought to the United States illegally as children to earn citizenship. It also mentions that Republican leaders would support comprehensive immigration reform that would provide many of the estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States pathways to living and working here legally. Although immigration reform in 2014 has gotten off to a vague and bumpy start, it’s a start nonetheless.

Source: Benen, Steve. “House GOP outlines immigration principles,” MSNBC. January 31, 2014.

This article was written by Rebecca Little