January 29th, 2014
04:53 PM ET
8 months ago

Pelosi insists immigration plan include path to citizenship; some House Republicans vow to oppose major reform

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.

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.

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. ada ada

    "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."

    Has this Ditz heard of H-1, J-1, B-1, and F-1 visas?...who dont have voting rights but still work/study here...

    January 29, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. ada ada

    and green card holders....who dont have voting rights

    January 29, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. Donna

    The Deomcrat party leaders care more about the illegals in this country than they care for its citizens. Pelosi's home district must be somewhere south of Mexico City.

    January 29, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Pelosi insists immigration plan include path to citizenship; some House Republicans vow to oppose major reform"

    Pelosi offers rope; GOPers/Teatrolls climb all over themselves to see who can grab the most.

    FIFY

    Studies already showed it would create 6M jobs. GOPers/Teatrolls are afraid of one thing here and one thing only: the demographics of who would be receiving a pathway to citizenship and who they tend to vote for. For them, it has nothing to do with fixing a problem, but rather preventing an already existing existential problem for their party from getting worse. Their demographic Armageddon is not avoidable really, but they certainly want to put it off as long as possible.

    January 29, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "and green card holders....who dont have voting rights"

    Your whole list is irrelevant. Those are forms of temporary permission to be here. With respect to immigration reform, we're talking about people who will be and should be getting permanent status as a vital and equal part of America...that means becoming a citizen, paying taxes and voting on your representation. Republicans want to create a system of second class citizenship because they fear who these people will vote for. That's it. That's the ONLY reason. The rest of their ridiculous screed on the subject is disproven by studies and experts and their frequent slip-ups when talking about this all really just ruins their attempt to hide what boils down to bigoted avarice towards people who already are, in every sense but the technical, our fellow Americans.

    January 29, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. just asking

    Sniffit
    Studies already showed it would create 6M jobs
    -–

    wow!!!! so why are they here? wouldn't their presense in mexico also have created 6 million jobs making it unecessasy for them to violate our laws and come here?

    of course you do not cite the mythical study because it doesn't exist or was done by some pro-amnesty group.

    January 29, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. rs

    This should be negotiable- not all illegal immigrants want citizenship- many are here only to work and send money home, so it isn't like there is either a call or even a need to consider all here now illegally as future citizens. Having said that, this issue becomes the test. Will one or the other side blow up Immigration Reform completely just to keep or to exclude a clear path to citizenship? It is also instructional that such a path exists in the Senate bill, but is is a long process that most will not complete for years and years.

    January 29, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. Me

    Donna

    Me
    What business is it of yours what anyone wants to put in their body,
    -–

    Because these stoned people affect others around them or may get behind the wheel of a car and kill others. And then there are the ones that can't control their usage and get hooked on it and start stealing to support their habit which eventually moves to other drugs.

    I suppose you would like to see the free availability of all drugs on the shelves of Walmart or CVS? The cocaine-mth-heroin aisle. What's the harm? Who cares if kids get ahold of these loaded guns masquerading as drugs.
    ________________________
    It should be controlled just like alcohol, it should be illegal to drive under the influence and to sell to minors. Show me one story, ONE, where someone got so out of control from pot that they had steal to support their habit, you are flat out lying!!!

    No one mentioned other drugs being legal, so what are you talking about in your second statement, you sure you are not already smoking something??? Pot should be controlled and regulated just like alcohol, it is NONE of your business what I want to eat, drink or put in my body! I agree with some of your views donna but you are dead wrong on this one, all of the GOP is!!!! I want freedom with every choice in my life not just the ones the government picks and chooses or people like you pick and choose, it should be MY choice!

    January 29, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Tommy G

    Sniffit
    "and green card holders....who dont have voting rights"
    Your whole list is irrelevant. Those are forms of temporary permission to be here.
    ---–

    Which millions turn into permanent residence (half the illegal problem) and now they will get amnesty if the Democrats have their way. Why are the Democrats ALWAYS the party taking the side of the criminals?

    January 29, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. Silence DoGood

    @Donna
    The Deomcrat party leaders care more about the illegals in this country than they care for its citizens. Pelosi's home district must be somewhere south of Mexico City.
    -------
    That is the trouble with liberals in general. They only seem to care about 2nd class people, minorities, women, poor, disadvantaged, working class, sick, outcast, persecuted religions, and people who have lost their rights.

    January 29, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Schumeroo

    Pelosi, Schumer, Reid are all playing games with Immigration Reform. They prefer that it doesn't pass and they can continue to use this as a political tool to bludgeon the GOP.

    There has been MANY surveys that show illegal immigrants want first and formost to get out of the shadows and not feel the threat of deportation on their backs. Citizenship is a nice bonus.

    Yet these Dems talk as if they're speaking on behalf of the illegals and looking out for them when its all about political expediency.

    At least the Tea Partiers speak their minds. All be told it looks like Boehner is the only guy who really is trying to find a solution here. Everyone's just f'n around.

    January 29, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. tom l

    @Sniffit,
    I better let my girlfriend know that even though she is a green card holder with permanent status apparently according to you it's temporary. I thought that was a wonderful point that ada ada brought up and I commend you for attempting a deft job of deflecting a perfectly reasonable point.

    I will repeat:
    It honestly seems to me that you're more concerned about them voting then they would be. It seems like you really cherish those votes as a collective a whole lot. I would honestly think that being able to stay in the US, having the ability to go our schools, having access to the incredible opportunities that our country provides to them would be far more significant to these individuals than being able to vote. They didn't commit a crime, as you are so apt to point out, but they most certainly broke our rules and there needs to be a significant consequence to that. That is a fair compromise. A fine? Big deal. Learning English? Big whoop. Back taxes? Most of these people are living paycheck to paycheck, how do you expect them to come up with this money? I totally understand why they have come here. Heck, I would probably do the same so I don't begrudge them that. So I say let's make them legal as long as they haven't broken any important laws since they have been here. This appears to be a very fair compromise or perhaps you can give me some ideas as to what meaningful consequences they should pay for breaking the rules.

    If voting is far too great a penalty for them to pay then what do you propose should be the consequences to their actions for breaking the rules? You like to talk about "fair". So what about the people that have come here legally and through proper channels? How is it fair to them if these people are allowed citizenship just like the ones who have followed the rules?

    January 29, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    17 pages of comments...
    Am I the only one that thinks that this is being blown way out of proportion?
    Jeesh.
    Not even the reporter to whom his comment was addressed is tripping like some of you are over this Rep's behaviour.
    Maybe it's just me.

    ----------–

    I looked in the mirror today and didn't like what was reflected back. This forum is not for me. Not as it now stands.

    January 29, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "so why are they here? wouldn't their presense in mexico also have created 6 million jobs making it unecessasy for them to violate our laws and come here?"

    Right...because everything is exactly the same in Mexico as it is here, so it would have exactly the same effect.

    "Why are the Democrats ALWAYS the party taking the side of the criminals?"

    It's not a criminal offense. Get that out of your silly head, because calling it one makes you sound misinformed and stupid.

    January 29, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Reason54454

    Give path to citizenship to immigrants who have been abiding by the rules of law – paying taxes. Someone who's received education and/or doesn't free load. It's messed up that every issues is centered around Mexicans and hispanic immigrants. There are European immigrants who have a lot more to offer and a lot less to suck off of the government. Why not consider them as a separate

    January 29, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  16. Reason54454

    Give path to citizenship to immigrants who have been abiding by the rules of law – paying taxes. Someone who's received education and/or doesn't free load. It's messed up that every issues is centered around Mexicans and hispanic immigrants. There are European immigrants who have a lot more to offer and a lot less to suck off of the government. Why not consider them as a separate class of immigrants? Why not decide the immigration policy based on origin and how much the said immigrants are contributing to society??? Stop calling everyone criminals. Not everyone has welfare checks and is a member of gangs. Don't be so closed minded. Did your predecessors not come to this land and kill off its inhabitants? Take a deep breath and look at the big picture, before you call anyone a criminal

    January 29, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "It honestly seems to me that you're more concerned about them voting then they would be"

    LOL! I point out that avoiding giving them citizenship and deliberately talking about "path to legal status" instead is ALL about voting and that voting is the umber one driver of the GOP/Teatrolls opposition to allowing a pathway to citizenship and you try to claim that it's because I'm the one concerned about them voting? That's even less believable than trying to claim the "real racist" is the guy pointing at the person who just finished spewing racist crap and called him a racist for it.

    That being said, of course I think it's important that they be allowed to vote. If they are going to be here, work here, wish to become citizens, must live according to our laws, must pay taxes, etc., then they should have a say in our governance and the manner in which the laws they must live under are determined and enacted. That is a fundamental, core, principle American belief and was a primary driver of our Revolution. Taxation without representation and creating a second class citizenship status are fundamentally incompatible with the entire premises upon which this country was founded and represent a patently unfair and inequitable manner in which to treat people we expect to live with the burdens and responsibilities of citizenship.

    January 29, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Me

    Sniffit

    "Why are the Democrats ALWAYS the party taking the side of the criminals?"

    It's not a criminal offense. Get that out of your silly head, because calling it one makes you sound misinformed and stupid.
    ___________________
    Sorry sniffit, that is a flat out lie, google it, it is a misdemeanor to cross the border illegally the first time and a felony after that!!! A simple google search shows you are lying!

    January 29, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "If voting is far too great a penalty for them to pay then what do you propose should be the consequences to their actions for breaking the rules? "

    You just listed them, champ. The Senate has fines, back taxes, other requirements and a THIRTEEN YEAR pathway to citizenship in their bipartisan immigration reform bill. If they can't pay the fines, then they don't finish the pathway. If they can't pay the back taxes, they don't finish the pathway. If they fail to meet the other requirements and jump through the other hoops, they don't finish the pathway. If they don't live long enough, they don't finish the pathway. Those are long and arduous demands, but they are temporary for a reason: because the end result should be equality. Second class citizenship and permanent stigma are concepts that don't belong here. Permanent revocation of the single most fundamental right of a citizen in a democracy is excessive here, particularly if they've done all that the Senate's bill requires and thereby atoned for their initial wrong. Come up with something better. Your one "want" here is too transparent in its motivations and too ridiculous in its ramifications.

    January 29, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. just asking

    Sniffit
    "so why are they here? wouldn't their presense in mexico also have created 6 million jobs making it unecessasy for them to violate our laws and come here?"
    --
    Right...because everything is exactly the same in Mexico as it is here, so it would have exactly the same effect.
    --

    so where is this mythical study that says we can instantly get 6 million jobs? what are all these jobs? how much do they pay? where are they? where has this untapped goldl mine of mythical jobs been hiding?

    "Why are the Democrats ALWAYS the party taking the side of the criminals?"
    --
    It's not a criminal offense. Get that out of your silly head, because calling it one makes you sound misinformed and stupid.
    --

    oh, so the feds just go around begging illegals to come with them and the illegals can say no thank you? and what of all these record obama deportations? the government is doing this even though these people aren't breaking any laws? who knew that all of our federal immigration laws carry no penalty? certainly you as a lawyer and a law abiding citizen would support that they be made a crime right? of course you want open borders so i guess the answer there would be no.

    January 29, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  21. Harold Read

    Support Breaking-and-Entering Reform! I should be able to break into my neighbor's house and take over their living room. If they don't pay for my food, healthcare, and educations, they must be republicans. "Undocumented houseguests" must be legal!

    January 29, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  22. yolanda

    @sniffit sits on the right hand of Rudy. Between them, they have all of the answers. If you disagree with them, you are either bigoted, of limited intelligence, or both. If you don't believe me, just ask them.

    January 29, 2014 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  23. g

    republicans want the cheap labor but once they get old or sick or talk back,they want the right to deport them

    January 29, 2014 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. S. B. Stein

    I may agree with the Democrats but don't like giving citizenship to those who came to the US illegally.

    January 29, 2014 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  25. Gunderson

    Huh?
    Excuse Pelosi but there is ALREADY a path to Citizenship. About a million become Citizens every year. I am sorry about those that want a special waiver but no, the people that come here legally are pretty well prepared to hit the ground running and I think have a sponsor. What Pelosi want's is Amnesty. Sorry, no.

    January 29, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
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