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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Dems Starting to Express Flexibility on House Approach to Immigration Reform

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In recent days, key Democrats have suggested a willingness to compromise with the House on the immigration reform process. Texas Democratic House member Henry Cuellar is to meet with Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte to discuss the notion that people can be legalized and then allowed to pursue conventional green card strategies rather than having a "special" path to citizenship. According to the Rio Grande Guardian:

“I support a comprehensive bill, but if we do it piecemeal and do not call it pathway but call it taking them (undocumented immigrants) out of the shadows and giving them legalization, I can support that. I have got to be flexible,” Cuellar said.

Cuellar said he does not support amnesty for undocumented immigrants. “What I do support is taking these people out of the shadows. I want to know who those people are,” he said.

Asked if there would be anyway for undocumented immigrants that become legal to apply for citizenship in the future, Cuellar answered in the affirmative. “At some time in the future, yes. We have to legalize these folks first. There are always things in the law that can allow these people to become citizens. You let them become a legal resident first. The system will allow them to get to that point (citizenship) eventually.”

President Obama also chimed in this week to make it clear that a piecemeal legislative strategy would be okay with the White House as long as the final bill that ends up on his desk has key elements such as some kind of pathway to citizenship. From Reuters:

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he could support the House of Representatives taking a piece-by-piece approach to changing immigration policy as long as key elements such as a "pathway to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants were included.

***

In an interview with Noticias Telemundo, Obama said he could back efforts in the House to advance elements of immigration reform one at a time - rather than all at once as the Senate did - as long as all of his priorities were part of the outcome.

"I'm happy to let the House work its will as long as the bill that ends up on my desk speaks to the central issues that have to be resolved," he said, citing his priorities of stronger border security, penalties for employers who take advantage of undocumented workers, and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally.

"If those elements are contained in a bill, whether they come through the House a little bit at a time or they come in one fell swoop ... I'm less concerned about process, I'm more interested in making sure it gets done," he said.



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