During an appearance on Meet the Press Sunday morning, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) reiterated his new found openness to providing a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who were brought into this country as children.
When host David Gregory asked Cantor point blank whether or not he supported the DREAM Act — which “would offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people who attend college or serve in the military” — Cantor avoided giving a direct answer. But he did make a compelling case for extending citizenship to DREAMers:
CANTOR: I have put out a proposal. I don’t know what the DREAM Act at this point is. What I say is, we’ve got a place, I think, all of us can come together, and that is for the kids.
GREGORY: Can you bring conservatives looking to supporting a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are here without having to first leave the country?
CANTOR: There is a lot of movement right now in the House and the Senate, both sides of the aisle, with folks having a lot of different ideas. I think –
GREGORY: Yes or no to that question? You could really do it. If you went all in, you could bring along the right in the House, couldn’t you?
CANTOR: I think a good place to start is with children. Here’s the difficulty in this issue, I think. And it is because we’ve got families who are here that have become part of the fabric of our country. And we want to make sure that we’re compassionate and sensitive to their plight. These kids know no other place as home. On the other hand, we are a country of laws. We have a situation of border security that we have to get straight. We have to secure our borders. There is a balance that needs to take place. But the best place to begin, I think, is with the children. Let’s go ahead and get that under our belt. Put a win on the board. And so we can promise a better life for those kids who are here due to no fault of their own.
A string of high-profile GOP leaders — including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich — have come out in favor of immigration reform after President Obama carried a whopping 70 percent of the Latino vote in his decisive re-election. But there is still a fair amount of resistance on the issue within the GOP, with some even dismissing a pathway to citizenship as “naive.”
And while some Republicans have changed their tune on immigration reform in recent months, there is still considerable daylight between the rhetoric and the reality. Cantor helped torpedo the very DREAM Act that would provide millions of undocumented children a pathway to citizenship — a measure he now supposedly supports. Former House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) went as far as to call such efforts “amnesty.”