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House Republicans Back Plan to Legalize Undocumented Workers

January 31, 2014

Boehner’s guidelines stipulate that legislation should ensure U.S. visas and green-card allocations "reflect the needs of employers."

Jan. 31 -- House Speaker John Boehner urged fellow Republicans to back an immigration plan that would legalize undocumented workers while stopping short of granting U.S. citizenship.

Boehner is pushing Republicans into a debate that has cost them support from Latino voters. The issue has been so divisive in his party that Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, who oversees House races as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said a measure may not be unveiled for months until deadlines pass to challenge incumbent lawmakers.

"The point is that most of the primaries will probably have faded by then," Walden said.

Boehner’s guidelines, distributed to House Republican lawmakers yesterday at a private policy retreat in Cambridge, Maryland, stipulate that legislation should ensure U.S. visas and green-card allocations "reflect the needs of employers." Temporary job programs should help the agricultural industry and not displace U.S. workers, according to the document.

The framework backs legalization for undocumented immigrants. It opposes granting citizenship, which was the centerpiece of a comprehensive Senate bill that passed with bipartisan support in June.

"There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws," according to the document obtained by Bloomberg News. "Rather, these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S."

‘Deal With’

"It’s time to deal with it, but how you deal with it is critically important," Boehner told reporters yesterday. "It’s one thing to pass a law, it’s another thing to have the confidence of the American people behind that law."

Boehner’s push for immigration changes risks further dividing House Republicans, who have splintered on votes to pass a budget, the appropriations bill and the farm bill.

He promoted the framework yesterday by telling lawmakers it was as far Republicans are willing to go, according to a Republican who was in the room during the meeting. Boehner told lawmakers that if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats insist on a path to citizenship for immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally, immigration legislation won’t go anywhere this year, according to the Republican, who asked for anonymity to describe the private meeting.

‘Important Step’

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RELATED TOPICS: Dairy, Policy, Immigration

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