|Why they come here|
Clearly, illegal immigrants come here because they love the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
Coincidentally, "pathway to citizenship" has the advantage of increasing the number of Democratic voters in the middle run.
By JULIA PRESTON
Glendy Martínez is waiting anxiously to see if Congress will ever pass legislation to allow immigrants like her without papers to stay in the country legally. But frankly, she says, she does not care if it will include any promise of citizenship.
With the earnings from her job in a Houston hair salon, Ms. Martínez, 30, is supporting one child born in Texas and three others she left behind in her home country, Nicaragua.
“So many people back there depend on those of us who are here,” she said. “It would be such a help if we could work in peace and go back sometimes to see our children.”
As President Obama looks for a way to salvage a broad overhaul of the immigration system, he opened the door this week to a piecemeal series of smaller bills as a way of getting past the objections of the Republican-run House, which refused to take up the comprehensive measure that the Senate passed in June.
But as far as Ms. Martínez and many other immigrants are concerned, one of House Republicans’ sharpest disagreements with the Senate and the White House — over a path to citizenship for those here illegally — should not be that hard to resolve.
“For many undocumented people, citizenship is not a priority,” said Oscar A. Chacon, executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, a network of immigrant organizations that includes many foreigners here without papers. “What they really care about is a solution that allows them to overcome their greatest vulnerabilities.”
The Senate bill includes a 13-year pathway for 11.7 million illegal immigrants that ends with a chance to naturalize. President Obama and other supporters of that measure insist that any alternative would create a disenfranchised underclass. Many House Republicans reject the Senate path as rewarding immigrants who broke the law. But a growing number of Republicans say they remain ready to work on immigration and could consider legalization, if it did not involve any direct route to citizenship.
For foreigners like Ms. Martínez — those who cannot get a driver’s license in most states and live with gnawing worries about being fired or deported — that would be enough. They aspire to become Americans but would easily settle for less if they could work and drive legally, and visit relatives outside the United States. ...
In the House, several dozen conservatives reject any legalization, calling it amnesty for outlaws.
Only controversial (i.e., crazy) people call it "amnesty." But if it's not going to be a "a path to citizenship" anymore, and we're all agreed to never ever call it "amnesty," what do we call it?
But Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and other House leaders continue to urge Republicans to show they can fix an immigration system that is broken. Many Republicans say legalization, along with tough border and workplace enforcement, is the only practical way to deal with unauthorized immigrants who have settled in the country.
Mr. Boehner said the House will take up the issues next year in smaller bills framed by principles being devised by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia. Mr. Goodlatte has said that he wants to “find the appropriate legal status for unlawful immigrants,” but that he would not grant them any special path to becoming Americans. Mr. Obama on Tuesday told The Wall Street Journal in an interview conducted before business executives, “If they want to chop that thing up into five pies, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like.”
Republicans point to low rates of naturalization among some legal immigrants — 36 percent among Mexicans who are eligible, according to the Pew Research Center — to say that citizenship is not vital for those groups. Some Republicans also worry that by offering citizenship, they could be creating millions of future Democratic voters.
Several Republicans are trying to come up proposals their caucus could accept. Mr. Goodlatte and the majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor, also from Virginia, have been working on a bill with a path to citizenship limited to young undocumented immigrants.
Representative Darrell Issa of California, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he had been writing a hybrid bill that would give illegal immigrants a six-year provisional status, allowing those with family ties here to naturalize eventually through regular channels, and creating a long-term guest worker program for others.
Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida is proposing earned citizenship for a broader group. And three Republicans have signed on to a bill by House Democrats with a pathway mirroring the Senate’s.
Speaking on Tuesday to Hispanic evangelicals in Washington, Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois who is an ardent defender of a broad overhaul, urged supporters to be ready to compromise with Republicans and accept legalization only for some immigrants to protect them from deportation.
Well, if Rep. Gutierrez is for it, it's gotta be good.
Among Latinos, a growing electorate that both parties want to court, sentiment is strong. In a recent national survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 67 percent of Latinos said immigrants here illegally should be allowed to become citizens if they met certain requirements, while 17 percent said they should only become legal residents.
So, the Democrats can just use it as a way to keep stirring up racial animus: "Those evil old white men don't think you are good enough to become American citizens!" etcetera etcetera You might think that Republicans would eventually catch on, but, evidently, this gag never gets old.