By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, House Republicans have released principles for immigration reform that may indicate that the House Republican leadership may be close to an agreement with Democrats on long stalled immigration reform. U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery said that she is closely monitoring the situation in Congress.
Congresswoman Roby said in a written statement, “I am closely monitoring any developments in Congress relating to immigration policy. There’s no question our immigration system is broken and in need of reform, but it matters how we do it. What the Senate passed last year is unacceptable. It amounts to amnesty with no true enforcement mechanisms to secure the border.”
The Conservative Alabama Congresswoman said, “I’m against offering amnesty for illegal immigrants. I will oppose any attempt at reform that won’t truly secure the border. And, I will fight to ensure American taxpayers aren’t forced to pay for the addition of millions of illegal immigrants to the rolls of our assistance programs.”
Rep. Roby continued, “Enacting bad immigration policy can threaten the livelihoods of American workers and make it harder for the unemployed to find jobs. Our primary focus should be working to improve our economy and jump-start job growth so that American moms and dads can make ends meet.” “There’s no question our immigration system is broken and in need of reform, but it matters how we do it. What the Senate passed last year is unacceptable. It amounts to amnesty with no true enforcement mechanisms to secure the border.”
There are an estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the United States, most of whom would like legal status and a pathway to American citizenship. President Obama announced earlier in the year that immigration reform would be one of his main legislative priorities in 2013.
The “The Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill passed the U.S. Senate despite opposition from conservatives in the Senate led by Jeff Sessions, but has been bogged down in the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives. Republican critics of the bill have been critical of measures in the bill which greatly increase the number of legal immigrants allowed in the country annually and question whether the Obama administration (which has a poor record of enforcing existing immigration law) can be trusted to actually implement heightened border security provisions in the Senate legislation.
On Thursday, the House GOP unveiled their ‘standards’ for immigration reform. The House Republicans would allow illegal immigrants already here to be allowed to spend the rest of their lives here but would not provide a pathway to citizenship if they meet a set of stringent requirements and if tough border security triggers are met.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R), R-Ohio is still refusing to create a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and the much more lenient Senate bill.
The draft principles said “There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws – that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law,” the authors wrote. “Rather, these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits).”
The draft obtained by NBC News continues, “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home. For those who meet certain eligibility standards, and serve honorably in our military or attain a college degree, we will do just that.”
Republicans are demanding that even those modest policy changes can’t occur “before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced.” House Speaker John Boehner has said that the principles are, “As far as we are willing to go” and that negotiations will fall apart if Democrats demand “a special path to citizenship.”
President Obama said in a White House release, “If we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.”
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.