Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, pledged to move immigration legislation forward despite the busy House fall schedule. Speaking at a House Republican event for Hispanic Heritage Month, Goodlatte said the House’s piecemeal approach to legislating immigration changes would address enforcement and security; legal immigration; and the status of illegal aliens.
Goodlatte said the Judiciary Committee is working on four new bills that concern different aspects of the immigration law. His committee passed four bills thus far on E-Verify, state immigration enforcement, agricultural guest workers and hi-tech workers while the Homeland Security Committee passed one border security bill.
"We are taking what we call a step-by-step approach,” Goodlatte said. “We have objections to the Senate bill, but we don't say we want to kill the Senate bill. We say we want to do immigration reform right."
For those who entered the country illegally as children, Goodlatte proposed what he called an "earned path" to citizenship that would amnesty (legalize) such illegal aliens and give them access to citizenship through education or work in certain fields or the military.
Goodlatte said he was open to the prospect of legalizing other illegal aliens, but not giving them a "special path to citizenship" like in the Senate-passed bill (S. 744). Such illegal aliens could be given amnesty -- authorization to work -- but would have to use existing avenues of employer or family sponsorship to attain citizenship.
“We have to find the appropriate legal status for people who are not lawfully here,” Goodlatte said. "That will not result in every single person who came here unlawfully getting all the way to citizenship, but I feel very strongly in my conversations with people it would be a major solution to the problem." His committee also may be working on another guest worker measure for low-skilled foreign workers.
The Judiciary Chairman said he hoped the full House would begin voting on committee-passed bills next month. It's not clear the press of business will allow such floor votes but any immigration measure that passes the House could be sent to a House-Senate conference committee. That would allow Senate negotiators to press for inclusion of any S. 744 provision.
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Updated: Fri, Sep 27th 2013 @ 1:01pm EDT