Negotiations on immigration reform are still in its initial stages, and while the details are unknown, some members are already signaling the possibility of bipartisanship within Congress.
A renewed sense of optimism is beginning days before the presidential inauguration. Earlier Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.) in an interview with the Wall Street Journal spoke about an outline of principals that would be needed in terms of immigration reform.
“In an ideal world we wouldn’t have eight, 10 million people who are undocumented,” Rubio told the Wall Street Journal. “We have to address this reality. But we have to do it in a way that’s responsible.”
Marco Rubio’s statements echoed similar principles advocated among those who strongly support immigration reform from both lawmakers and advocates. His plan emphasizes a waiting time to apply for a green card, but it encourages the legalization of those living in the country without papers through a work permit.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to the Senator personally, but it looks like his thinking is evolving along the lines so that he and I are starting to look at this more similarly,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-Calif.), a long-time advocate of immigration reform who also serves on the judiciary committee, told VOXXI earlier this week.
Lofgren explained that the public discourse on immigration and legalization is confusing, but essentially Democrats are advocating for similar principles in terms of the process. She along with other members on both sides of the House are reported to be currently in discussions on immigration.
“What’s being talked about is whether there is, over time, an ability to become a legal permanent resident of the United States—if you become a legal permanent resident then after five years, you have an opportunity to pay a lot of money, take a very vigorous test in English, then you can begin to swear allegiance to the United States,” she said.
A new poll released Friday, sponsored by America’s Voice, National Immigration Forum and Service Employees International Union shows that a majority of those who were surveyed, 1,003 registered voters, favor a path to earned citizenship for current undocumented immigrants, and strong accountability measures.
Another NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey indicates that a majority—52 percent—of voters prefer a plan that allows undocumented persons to apply for a legal status. Frank Sharry, director of America’s Voice, expressed that in terms of Rubio’s proposal it’s not whether he opposes citizenship. Sharry said the Senator has clarified that he doesn’t.
The question is more how much time will be allotted in the process for someone who wants to become a citizen. Under these terms, he noted that they will be taking these poll results to members in Congress.
“The mood is really good,” exclaimed Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who has been involved in meetings with Democrats, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
“The question for me is whether the Democrats want to have a political victory or a policy victory?” he told reporters on the House Floor this week. “If they want a policy victory, there are enough Republicans here and I think there’s a majority of the (House Republican Conference) that want to do something about immigration reform.”
Labrador noted that there isn’t “a line in the sand” just yet on what they would be supporting, but it would be difficult for him to vote on a comprehensive package, rather than a series of bills. He added that he was opposed to an approach advocated by the Obama administration in terms of a full comprehensive push for citizenship.
“I think we can get something short of that—that will get bipartisan agreement here in the House,” he told VOXXI.
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