House immigration compromise includes tougher path to citizenship than Senate bill
June 28th, 2013
05:36 PM ET
10 years ago

House immigration compromise includes tougher path to citizenship than Senate bill

Washington (CNN) - An emerging immigration compromise in the House differs sharply from the measure passed by the Senate this week by making it harder for undocumented immigrants to get on a path to citizenship.

Members of the bipartisan House group negotiating the bill would require that border security measures are in place before any process toward eventual citizenship could begin. Lawmakers working on the House plan agreed to include security "triggers" to their proposal in hopes of attracting support from more House Republicans who have been highly critical of the Senate bill. The Senate rejected a similar GOP proposal.

"Border security triggers the rest of it," Texas Republican Rep John Carter, one of seven lawmakers working on an immigration deal, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Friday.

A Democratic congressional source familiar with the House discussions told CNN "there are triggers that must be met before registration and deferred adjudication can begin," referring to the citizenship process for those 11 million undocumented workers already in the country.

This approach contrasts with the Senate immigration bill that passed Thursday, which allows undocumented workers in the country to gain provisional legal status once immigration legislation is signed into law, but then requires a series of security and enforcement provisions to be in place before those immigrants can gain full citizenship.

Carter declined to lay out the details in the House plan, only saying "certain triggers have to be met."

The Democratic source told CNN that in addition to the border security trigger, the House proposal also contains requirements for interior enforcement and so-called "e-verify" rules that employers would need to meet to demonstrate they are tracking potential employees who might be in the country illegally.

The Senate immigration bill, which passed on Thursday, was already a non-starter for most House conservatives. Many House Republicans say they will not agree to any path to citizenship before getting assurances that what they see as the larger issue is addressed first– inadequate controls at the border. They also want a major crack down on those overstaying their visas inside the U.S.

House Speaker John Boehner repeated Thursday that has no intention of taking up the Senate passed immigration bill, and said the House would work on its own immigration measures. The House Judiciary Committee has already passed a series of smaller bills. Boehner has called on the bipartisan group to finish its work, though he hasn’t promised a vote on the measure.

Mindful of his party's focus on security issues, the speaker also stressed he wants strong enforcement measures in order to avoid another influx of undocumented workers, which many argue was the result of the last major congressional effort on immigration reform. "People have to have confidence that the border is secure before anything else is really going to work. Otherwise, we repeat the mistakes of 1986," Boehner said.

Rep Mario Diaz Balart, R-Florida, another Republican working on the House comprehensive immigration bill, wouldn't give details on the bill's border security provisions, but he said they would be different from the Senate, and the issue is central to putting together a reform package that would get significant bipartisan support in the House.

"If we're going to do this it has to be enforceable," Diaz-Balart said.

It’s unclear how House Democrats will respond to the inclusion of these triggers.

Without mentioning any specifics, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that Democrats should swallow some concessions and get behind the bill that the bipartisan group of lawmakers is drafting.

Referring to that proposal Pelosi said it was "not everything I would have wanted in a bill, nonetheless a compromise, and one that we can all support." She conceded the plan included "poison pills" which she called "not lethal."

While Carter emphasized border security was a key part of the deal the group was discussing, he also said it's unrealistic to completely prevent all illegal crossings.

"Anybody who thinks you can totally secure the southern border has never been to southern border. I've been down there all my life. I'm telling you, you can build a 40 foot wall and put machine guns on it you can't secure the southern border. There's too much wild country," Carter said.

Carter said he expects the bipartisan House group to finish its bill over the July 4th congressional recess. The Democratic source told CNN that after a brief huddle on Friday afternoon the bipartisan House group committed to moving ahead with its work. For the last several weeks members of the group have claimed that there were on the verge of unveiling legislation, but they've repeatedly hit delays and still haven’t' released any outline or details.

But the Texas Republican suggested there was a push from House Speaker John Boehner to finalize the bill. He said Boehner hasn’t weighed in on substance of the immigration effort, but wants it done. "All he's said was ‘finish it,’" Carter said.

Filed under: House • Immigration
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. ge

    the only thing republicans want is cheap slave labor -with no strings attached

    June 30, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  2. Evelyn

    Workplace enforcement with stiff fines and jail time for those who continue to employer illegals ,better border security and government workers who will actually keep track of those who overstay visa's.
    Our leaders are leading special interests,illegals and those who support illegals dictate to them and are ignoring the interests of the American workers .
    I wonder if our leaders are even capable of enforcing the laws they pass.We need to vote most of these jokers out .They are far too beholden to special interests to truly represent the American people .Republicans and Democrats alike..

    June 30, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  3. sonkarlay

    we are not going to have a bill from the house because there is no leader on the republican side and they control the house

    June 30, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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