One key House Republican member said on Tuesday that the House may push through immigration reform sometime in October, and that other legislative priorities like Syria and spending cuts should “not deter us from getting to [immigration reform] as soon as possible.”
In the most optimistic timeline since the August recess, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said on Tuesday during an interview with National Public Radio radio host Kojo Nnamdi, that October would be his best estimate for taking up immigration legislation. Another key member on Goodlatte’s immigration committee Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) previously indicated that immigration reform may be pushed to 2015. Goodlatte also said that he would consider an “appropriate legal status” for undocumented youths brought to the country by their parents, if it would preclude future flow of parents bringing in their undocumented children:
NNAMDI: Where does this all put immigration reform?
GOODLATTE: It may be October. In my opinion, the five bills that have been passed out of the, the four out of the Judiciary Committee which I chair and one dealing with border security out of the Homeland Security Committee. Now those bills are ready to go to the floor of the House and it’s my hope that they will come to the floor of the House as soon as possible, but we certainly do recognize the fact that Syria, the CR, and other will take up the limited number of legislative days that are immediately in front of us. That should not deter us from getting to it as soon as possible.[...]
[...][The Kid's Act] would recognize that children brought here illegally by their parents…should be a priority that we should be addressing. However, we also want to make sure that future parents don’t continue to do the same thing…so writing this bill in conjunction with making sure that if we are able to give an appropriate legal status to children who have grown up here, we won’t get another wave of people coming here and bringing their children with them .
NNAMDI:[...] You seem to be suggesting that a direct path to citizenship might encourage other parents to do the same thing. What would be…
GOODLATTE: No no, I think whatever status we give could encourage that. We don’t know what this bill is going to look like, so whether it’s a legal status or a way to earn citizenship through education, military service, or other types of employment… whatever this may be, we don’t want this to be a continual thing where if I bring my children to the United States, they’re going to be able to take advantage of this.
During the interview, Goodlatte alluded to a July poll showing that American voters would prefer a piecemeal approach over an “up or down” vote on the Senate comprehensive immigration plan. Yet, a survey of polls tailored towards Republicans during the same time period, found that when the Senate plan is fleshed out, Republican voters were just as likely to support the comprehensive reform approach.
The five bills that Goodlatte refers to are the Agricultural Guestworker Act, the Border Security Results Act, the Legal Workforce Act, the SAFE Act, and the SKILLS Visa Act. Not one of these bills passed with bipartisan support. The bills also do not address the entire population of 11 million undocumented immigrants, but they do point to the kind of border enforcement-focused immigration bills that some House Republicans are looking to pass. Additionally, Goodlatte remarked that he would only consider “appropriate legal status” for some undocumented immigrants.
Without a pathway to citizenship option, both House and Senate Democrats will likely not help to pass the House version of the immigration bill. It would be difficult to reconcile stringent border enforcement measures with a lack of a permanent legalization pathway. But then, getting a bill signed into law may not be Goodlatte’s first priority anyway. He told the Wall Street Journal, “We pass bills all the time that don’t get passed all the way through and signed into law, because we want to spell out to the American people what we think the right solutions to our problems are. I don’t believe immigration reform should be any different than that.”