House Judiciary Committee holds first hearing on Immigration in the new Congress

House Judiciary Committee holds first hearing on Immigration in the new Congress

House Judiciary Committee holds first hearing on Immigration in the new Congress

A panel meeting on Tuesday has underlined the reasons why legislation for senators to pass a bipartisan solution to illegal immigration into the USA will be a difficult process.

Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee deemed the idea of a path to citizenship for approximately 11 million illegal US immigrants as ‘extreme’ as he exchanged with a witness at the 113 congress’s first immigration hearing.

This proposed path to citizenship for those already present in the United States is a core element of President Obama’s plans for immigration reform, which he discussed directly with immigration advocates and labour leaders on Tuesday, and was also announced by the bipartisan blueprint by senators last week.

Despite the committee taking on any immigration legislation passed by the Senate, Goodlatte asked the question of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro:

"Are there options that we should consider between the extremes of mass deportation and a pathway to citizenship for those not lawfully present in the United States?"

Julian Castro, who supports the comprehensive immigration reform proposal put forward by Obama and the senators, disputed this portrayal.

"A pathway to citizenship should be the option the country selects," Castro said. "I don't see that as an extreme option. The extreme would be open borders."

A spokeswoman for the National Immigration Law Center said the hearing demonstrated that House leaders are out of touch with most Americans on immigration.

"Today's activities show that in Washington there are some elected officials who learned from the 2012 elections and there are some who clearly have not," said Marielena Hincapie, the law center's executive director. "When legislators call this solution, which is favoured by a majority of American voters, 'extreme,' it simply shows that they are out of touch with our national needs and values."

Castro also said he opposes any plan to grant those already in the country the legal status to stay while barring them from ever becoming U.S. citizens.

Obama and the group of eight senators have reinforced the fact that they are not offering a waived amnesty to undocumented immigrants. Rather, they require those who are in the country illegally to undertake a lengthy citizenship process which could span more than a decade.

With the Senate proposal, undocumented immigrants would need to pass a criminal background check and on this basis would be allowed to live and work in the country with provisional legal status. Once Congress have agreed that the US – Mexico border is secure, these immigrants may be eligible for a green card dependent on meeting various requirements, including paying fines and back taxes and learning English.

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