Are House Republicans Softening Their Stance on Pathway to Citizenship?

Written by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

At a time when some House Republicans have expressed public opposition to the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill, Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said Tuesday that they remain optimistic that the House will consider an immigration reform bill that includes citizenship. Reminding an audience at a town hall Tuesday that the Senate measure was able to pass through a bipartisan compromise, they remained guardedly hopeful that a similar compromise that includes a pathway to citizenship could emerge in the House.

McCain told a reporter who asked whether there could be any “wiggle room” in considering citizenship for some, but not for the majority of undocumented population:

First of all, I don’t accept your principle. Our vice presidential candidate in the last candidate Paul Ryan was fully on board. We’ve talked to Congressman Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who said that he’d maybe want to move some of these things through one by one. I dont accept your premise that the House of Representatives will absolutely reject a path to citizenship. I just dont accept that. I think we will know more in two or three months.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) passed a resolution in recent weeks that rejects a path to citizenship, but provides renewable work permits. Other House leadership members have similarly stepped away from supporting citizenship. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said during an Univision radio interview on Tuesday that he would not support a “special pathway” to citizenship. “There is no permanent underclass,” he said, “there is no distinction other than to say people who enter here unlawfully will not get an advantage over people who have lawfully immigrated.”

Still, at least five House Republicans have softened their stance over the citizenship issue since the beginning of the August recess. A total of 24 House Republicans support citizenship.

majority of Arizona residents, who by virtue of being border state residents have the best insight on the immigration debate, support citizenship for undocumented immigrants. And constituent voters who live in swing district likewise want Republicans to help pass reform.

McCain and Flake also appealed to compassion by dismissing rumors about immigrants. Some key highlights:

MCCAIN: There are very few people outside of you, Mark, that have not violated the law at one time or another… People who violated the law pay a fine. This is a ten year path to a green card… this is an enormous long path to achieve citizenship as part of this bill. I would argue that there’s a very heavy penalty that is being paid. And yes, they entered this country illegally, but all of us should have a chance at redemption.”

FLAKE: Amnesty would be an unconditional pardon for a breach of law. We’re not pardoning anyone here. There are fines and fees and penalties and a probationary process that they have to wait.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Karen C.
Karen Chestney4 years ago

I support Immigration reform. We need it. GOP needs to "get-over" themselves & DO their job. DO what is best for the Country.

Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman4 years ago

I read somewhere that the immigration problem is that Republicans are addicted to cheap labor and Democrats are addicted to getting more Democratic voters.

That said, please note that Europeans looking for a better life were among the many illegal aliens setting foot in the Americas. Eventually these "illegals", through their numbers, technology, and diseases were able to take over the Americas. And now these new rulers are designating as "illegal" many of the descendants of the first Americans.

Robert K.
Robert K4 years ago

Without exception nothing a Republican does is well meaning, just bowing to the corporations who own them lock, stock and barrel. Everything they do has a sinister basis.

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

I don't support it either, and I have a foreign wife. Just fix the immigration system, which is clearly broken. But don't pass anything, the details are important.

Hannah Mawson
Hannah Mawson4 years ago

They are probably just trying to get more minority votes. I don't believe they have really changed their views on immigration, just realized that demographics are changing, and they aren't going to win an election with just white voters anymore.

Randi Levin
Randi Levin4 years ago

But Janice the GOP doesn't understand that. And if they chose to open our borders to Criminals and Terrorists then they too should be dismissed from the position effective immediately.

janice b.
jan b4 years ago

We are over-populated now.....not enough jobs for everyone. Of course this is good for the corporatists who have plenty of cheaper-help to pick from.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper4 years ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

thank you for posting