Posted by on February 08, 2013 in Blog

The House Judiciary Committee held the first of many hearings Tuesday on immigration policy. AAI submitted testimony for the record, specifically emphasizing the need for incorporating civil rights and civil liberties protections in immigration enforcement and prohibiting racial profiling.

The President as well as the Senate released their frameworks for a comprehensive immigration bill last week that included a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the US. While both frameworks support a pathway to citizenship, the President's framework goes a step further by not linking border security to citizenship. 

It was initially indicated by House leadership that their chamber will in fact be taking a back seat to the Senate in drafting an immigration bill. However, the House jumped ahead of the Senate and held the first immigration hearing on Tuesday, and rumor has it that the House group composed of six bipartisan members is taking the lead in Congress by drafting legislation. The group initially indicated that they will release legislation in conjunction with the President’s State of the Union address, but Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the bipartisan group, was rather ambiguous about any proposed legislation and instead said the group is “on the cusp” of releasing a bipartisan set of principles in the House.

We previously wrote about the “Gang of Eight” taking the lead on immigration reform on the Senate side. On the House side, the six members working quietly behind the scenes on a set of  bipartisan principles are Reps. John Carter (R-TX), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). Though both chambers are working on their own set of principles, the Senate framework includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. On the House side, based on remarks made by some GOP members during the first immigration hearing, it’s no surprise that the Republican-controlled House is more inclined to favor a pathway to a “green card” rather than citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the US. “It would create a permanent underclass in America,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, in response to the partial legalization proposal put forth by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

While a pathway to citizenship will be a very bumpy road on the House side, legislators are still keen on moving forward with immigration reform and are also re-introducing the DREAM Act, which provides an expedited pathway to citizenship for children who unknowingly entered the US illegally and now face deportation as young adults. Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) is currently collecting original co-sponsors to the bill which is expected to be introduced on February 27. On the Senate side, Senator Durbin (D-IL), the original author of the DREAM Act, is expected to include the language in a comprehensive immigration bill the Senate is currently working on drafting.

Make sure to tell your members of Congress that any proposed immigration deal should include a clear pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that should not be linked to border security and should also include provisions prohibiting racial profiling in enforcement measures.    

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