In yet another rare flash of inspired thinking, John Boehner has charged Robert Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to find a workable solution to the immigration morass, affecting an estimated 11 million foreign nationals, in the US.
Mr. Goodlatte would appear entirely unsuitable for the task in hand. Not only is he the only too narrowly focused on border security, but his comments suggest that most undocumented residents already qualify for legal residency, under existing immigration law, which is NOT the case. He has also said, repeatedly, that he is opposed to legislation granting a “special” pathway to citizenship. Mr. Goodlatte declined to “reward” those who had entered the US illegally with citizenship and that no pathway was needed.
In stark contrast to the Senate, which offered broad sweeping changes that address much of what is wrong with current immigration law, Mr. Goodlatte has proposed a piecemeal approach. Although he has expressed an unwillingness to define exactly what he is proposing, his committee has already approved four bills. These include one for highly-skilled workers, a second for agricultural workers, a third aimed at strengthening immigration laws and the ability for local and state governments to enforce them and a fourth that requires employers to use the e-verification system to obtain workers’ legal status.
Critics of this approach include some of the ‘Gang of Eight’ who drafted the Senate proposals. They maintain that new legislation that does not address the issue of citizenship and argue that it will, essentially, create a new underclass, with fewer and lesser rights, than other US citizens.
The Senators have said that a House bill, that does not include a “pathway to Citizenship,” will likely not pass the Senate.
To his credit, Mr. Goodlatte, in an interview with NPR, has said that he wants to address the issue of those, “who are not lawfully in the United States “ and that he sympathized with young undocumented immigrants who wanted to gain legal status. However, he reiterated that he would not move forward before other border security and enforcement mechanisms were in place.