As the Senate gang of eight prepares its immigration bill for early next week, a surprising coalition of conservatives have come forward in favor of a path to citizenship.
But some conservatives are opposing the push. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and GOP senators claim the process is moving too fast. However, the bill will move through the regular committee process at Republicans’ insistence, with the first Senate Judiciary hearing slated for later this month.
Meanwhile, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) warned of a “revolt among Republicans” if the House of Representatives considered a path to citizenship. Instead, he wants to make life so difficult for immigrants that they leave on their own. Rohrabacher told Politico he would not describe it as self-deportation, although it is effectively the same policy:
You make sure that people who are here illegally do not get jobs, and they don’t get benefits and they will go home. It’s called attrition. I don’t happen to believe in deportation. If you make sure they don’t get jobs and they don’t get benefits, I mean Mitt [Romney] called it self-deportation, but it’s not; it’s just attrition. They’ll go home on their own.
Rohrbacher’s position is just one example of how many Republicans, particularly in the House, are still not on board with the Republican National Committee’s attempt at rebranding the party. The RNC election post-mortem asked the GOP abandon its extreme rhetoric in the immigration debate: “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence,” the report stated.
Remember that after Romney made the same argument, Republicans realized how self-destructive self-deportation is as a party platform — President Obama received over 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012. It’s also the official position of anti-immigration groups like the nativist NumbersUSA.
What the anti-immigration contingent ignores is that many undocumented immigrants have lived in the U.S. for at least a decade, have families who are documented, own homes, and pay billions of dollars in taxes.