Friday, January 31, 2014

House Republican Standards for Immigration Reform Highlight Targeted Approach Over Comprehensive Reform

From, 01/31/2014

As anticipated, House Republicans on Thursday released a set of Standards for Immigration Reform, a set of principles intended to revive the bipartisan discussions that stalled last year. The Standards reflect a commitment to bipartisan progress, but stress that House Republicans do not intend to proceed to a conference with the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. Rather, they plan a step-by-step approach that starts with border security and increased enforcement. The Standards point to a fully functioning electronic exit-entry control system and electronic employment verification as priorities to combat status violations, fraud and other abuses of the law. 

The Standards place a strong positive emphasis on employment-based immigration, particularly in regard to the ability of employers to retain talent educated in the United States in high-skill fields. The Standards also endorse temporary worker programs that provide “realistic, enforceable, usable, legal paths for entry into the United States,” citing the agricultural industry as a particular concern. 

Finally, the Standards support a means for undocumented individuals to legally live and work in the United States once certain conditions are met, but with no path to citizenship. The process for obtaining such legal status would not be available until “specific enforcement triggers have been implemented.” However, as one exception, those who were brought to the United States as children would be eligible for legal permanent residence and citizenship. 

The response from stakeholders across the immigration reform effort has generally been positive, and the Standards are generally seen as offering a good starting place for discussions and potential legislative action later this year.