Washington (CNN) - As House Republicans headed to Maryland's eastern shore to discuss their immigration reform principles, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi drew a bright line on the most contentious issue in the debate, insisting, "In our caucus, there has to be path to citizenship."
House Speaker John Boehner and a group of top Republican leaders, including GOP 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, are expected to release a set of principles this week to chart the party's strategy forward on immigration legislation.
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Boehner has said he plans to move forward on the issue, but there are deep divisions among House Republicans about how to deal with the approximately 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the United States.
While some Republicans and groups supporting major reform argue it will grow the economy by enlarging the work force, some party conservatives strongly disagree, arguing unemployment could go up if there is an influx of new immigrants.
"Many of us…oppose tackling the issue of amnesty right now," Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, a major opponent of enacting comprehensive reform right now, told CNN.
Opponents call a path to legalization for those 11 million amnesty. He believes a majority of House Republicans will not support major reform right now as he and others work to persuade the leadership now is not the time to move forward.
Staffs of 15 House conservatives met with aides to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, a vocal opponent of comprehensive reform, last week to help focus on the best arguments against moving forward and how to counter the push by proponents, several sources familiar with the meeting told CNN.
Sessions' staff circulated a 30-page memo to all House Republicans on Wednesday laying out economic, political and moral arguments against comprehensive reform.
"House Republicans, in crafting immigration principles, should reply to the President's immigration campaign with a simple message: our focus is to help unemployed Americans get back to work – not grant amnesty or to answer the whims of immigration activists and CEOs," reads part of the memo obtained by CNN.
"Significantly increasing the inflow of immigrants would adversely shock an already weak economy, lower average wages, increase unemployment, and decrease each American's share of national output," also states the memo.
Groups supporting a major overhaul, including the Center for American Progress, countered the memo from Sessions' office with their own projecting immigration reform would increase the nation's growth rate and reduce the deficit.
The House Republican leaders are expected to present data with similar results on Thursday to the members at the retreat while opponents increase their efforts.
"The last thing we want to have is an intramural battle within our party on immigration," Fleming said. "It is going to be a rational discussion, a family discussion about what is best for America."
Many members say going on the record approving any plan to grant citizenship opens them up to primary challenges from candidates on the right who are adamantly opposed to major immigration legislation.
According to GOP sources familiar with the draft principles Boehner is crafting, they will propose a path to citizenship for children of undocumented parents in the U.S. now, but for adults House Republicans will say they should be eligible for legal status to stay in the country, not citizenship.
Pelosi dismissed that approach.
"We're not a country that says do our work but you can only have a limited legal status in our country," she said.
Fleming also dismissed that idea. "If you start any form of legal pathway in any direction you will end up" giving citizenship to many of them he argued.
One freshman House Democrat, Rep. Juan Vargas, D-California, said earlier this month he could accept a bill without citizenship, but Pelosi said he was an "odd person out."
Pelosi said she spoke to Boehner, and he assured her the new GOP outline "will be good" and that the new proposals "will be acceptable to probably all of us, and I hope that is the case."
But while she signaled House Democrats were open to a different path to citizenship than the one that was part of the bipartisan Senate bill that passed last year, Pelosi reiterated her opposition to efforts by the House GOP to push a measure that didn't include eventual citizenship.
"It wouldn't be second class citizens, because they wouldn't be citizens. They would be second class residents of our country. I just can't subscribe to that. That's not where our caucus is, nor our supporters on this issue," Pelosi said.
“Pelosi dismissed that approach…..”We’re not a country that says do our work but you can only have a limited legal status in our country,” she said.” <~ excuse me but our country didn't say DO our work. No one told them to do any of this, that was their choice. To be honest you can't trust people who are in survivor mode, they lie, scan, cheat, marry for citizenship,etc.. Everyone is rushing in to say "you don't know their situation back in their old countries, all they want is a better life, your ancestors are illegals." All of these argument are flawed, and I consider them manipulation and self serving. I don't swim after drowning people, you can't trust them, they will drown you to save themselves. And if these immigrants are not that desperate, then they need to return home. Either or, the govt, our govt , the US govt, is not here to serve foreign citizens. Your state of well being is the matter if your own govts problems. I'm sorry the luck of the draw is not in your favor and u wish you lived an economically or socially prosperous place. But stay the EF home, your issues should not be affecting my life or the system that rules over me.
"We're not a country that says do our work but you can only have a limited legal status in our country," she said. Nobody told them to "do our work." It seems that they were willing to break the law to do so. These people are not victims. They are the criminals in this discussion. I am a immigrant myself and I loath these people. They do not speak for everyone in the immigrant community and give us a bad name. Immigrant was once a great thing for any country. We were able to achieve something for ourselves and contribute to a country at the same time and we were grateful for it. This generation of immigrants (legal and not) are pushy and demanding. They insist that a country should revolve around the immigrant and cater to their needs. Companies and governments use immigrants to undercut the working native and to be used for votes which creates resentment. The illegals are the ones who I can not stand. The politicians who apologize for them are worse.
Really...the US needs 15 million or more poor illiterate Mexican cast offs to enhance the country.
They broke the law..... and want us to change things for them???? No! Who is to say they would follow ANY laws? American citizens need those jobs. My sister in law came the legal way. Why can't they? Politicians want thing changed in order to get money from big businessmen and votes. What a shame to devalue citizenship in that way!!! No work permits, no welfare, nothing till they come into this country following our laws. Stand up for what is right and fair, politicians. Thank you.
There has always been a path to citizenship. It's called go home, and apply to enter the country legally.
We are a not a nation that needs any more workers, our labor markets are completely flooded with foreign workers and we have in excess of 20 million* of our own citizens who are unemployed. Every month we still import another 125,000* work visa waving foreign workers without even a passing consideration for our fellow citizens who are unemployed.
Putting the 20 plus million of our citizens back to work should be your top priority not kow towing to robber baron corporate and open borders lobbies.
Additionally, offering citizenship to those who have broken our immigration laws not only encourages more immigration law breaking it devalues US citizenship as a whole.
Stop the immigration nonsense, support unemployed US citizens, join numbersusa and or fairus
Comprehensive immigration reform was signed by Reagan. 20 yrs later under GWB & 30 yrs later now, same issue exists...
...when will we pass ONCE-&-FOR-ALL Comprehensive Immigration Reform that STOPS being an issue every 20 or so years??!!
@Lynda/Minnesota & Dominican mama 4 Obama:
Evil triumphs when good people leave. PLEASE don't quit the forum! :-(
I seriously stress. 11 million illegal immigrants must be DEPORTED! That's millions of American citizen jobs stolen from us hard working natural born Americans. We are willing and able to do the many so called lesser jobs that supposedly are jobs only illegal immigrants are taking up. And amnesty is possible for them, for the sake of good commerce between U.S. and other countries, particularly with Mexico? We are suffering enough already with not enough work due to outsourcing, automation, and corporate selloutp of American industry. I plead! Immigrants must come here legally or pay whatever penalties deemed by our laws. I abide and when I haven't I paid all penaltys time or money-wise. Amnesty was not offered.And I am tired of my tax dollars funding illegals to go to my community health clinic suck up my food stamps and continue to unlawfully compete for all recources and succeed,laughing the whole way. I doubtto get away with any in their country. Cost of deportation? Have their country come get them.
Support Breaking-and-Entering Reform! As a burglar/"undocumented houseguest", it is a human right for me to do as I please in your house!
The GOP has no agenda except to block everything Obama tries to do to help the American people and they will pay for it in November !!!!!!
I respect and encourage people who want to come to the US for a better life LEGALLY.
If they violate the law and enter illegally or stay illegally, then they need to be deported.
Nothing to do with race. If simply asking people to obey our Country's laws is to much to ask, then we do not need them.
- end lawlessness
– seal the border
– enforce e-verify
– stop all benefits for illegals
– deport illegals
– period !
I love Pelosi's way of lobbing political grenades. Many Republicans would probably go for a pathway to citizenship, but they have a problem supporting anything with those specific words in it.
Any actual citizens to get a free pass on illegal acts committed?
They all agree on this – more cheap labor, lower wages, fewer rights for domestic servants – what is not to love about that? Pelosi has lots of domestic servants on her various estates, they all do. The difficulty is selling it to a skeptical public.
Priority one should be a more secure border. Then overhaul the process and create two paths for the illegals currently in the U.S. One would be a path to citizenship. The other would be a path back to where they came from. Once these issues have been addressed and resolved, resume an immigration program with much stricter guidlines. Unless these measures are taken, the U.S. will always have this problem...and it will continue to grow.
"House Republicans, in crafting immigration principles, should reply to the President's immigration campaign with a simple message: our focus is to help unemployed Americans get back to work – not grant amnesty or to answer the whims of immigration activists and CEOs,"
...and your "back to work" plan is?..............waiting...........waiting.......... Oh yeah, that's right. repeal the ACA. restrict abortion.........repeal the ACA..........restrict abortion.......repeal the ACA
Why is everyone talking about "breaking the law" when everyone LEGAL also breaks the law!!?? We have thieves and murderers who are US Citizens. We also have US Citizens who do not want to work because they are lazy @sses and just live off of welfare.....and don't forget about those who live on welfare and have a side job and ride in a 2014 Cadillac Escalade!!!! Why don't you try putting yourself in the shoes of an immigrant?? I bet if you lived in Mexico, you would also come to the US for a better life for you and your family. I am a born US Citizen who fell in love and married an immigrant. Why should i be punished for marrying him? Why does my family have to get separated? How do i explain to my daughter that her father had to go back to Mexico for 10 years!!?? All he did was cross the border....he didn't rob, rape, or murder anyone!! All of you should think before you comment on another person's position. There are all kinds of different situations and they need to be fixed!!!