Boehner’s wish to get immigration reforms done gains traction.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Republicans continue to concede ground on the contentious issue of comprehensive immigration reform, as two of the party’s youngest lawmakers have announced that they support measures that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently within the US.
Representatives Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger expressed their support for citizenship initiatives tailored specifically for illegal immigrants in interviews this week. Both men are from the state of Illinois, and are among the youngest lawmakers currently on Capitol Hill. Schock, just 32 years old, represents Illinois’ 18th Congressional District, while Kinzinger (36) is at the helm of the state’s 16th Congressional District.
Both young Congressmen have taken hardline stances for citizenship, which has been something that the GOP has been reticent to yield ground on ever since the comprehensive immigration reform debate really kicked into high gear in 2013. Although the last few months have seen Republican leaders voice their willingness to at least discuss such measures, it’s unusual to see their members talk about citizenship so enthusiastically.
“Our broken immigration system is holding our nation back,” Kinzinger said in a video statement on Tuesday, played at an event hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition. “We must work hard to come to an agreement on how to bring undocumented workers out of the shadows, legally entering the work force and becoming part of the American melting pot that makes this country great.”
Schock voiced the same support, saying “We need a clear path to citizenship for workers who are already here and a fair and efficient on-ramp for those who want to come here,” adding that he believes “if a man or a woman likes their American job, wherever they were born, they should be able to keep that job.”
The disparity on immigration reform within the Republican Party is coming at a dangerous time, as the GOP is rallying its troops to attack a suddenly vulnerable Democratic Party that is still recovering from the backlash it received with the launch of Obamacare in October of last year. Although immigration reform likely won’t see its day on the floor of the House of Representatives, it will remain a critical component of the upcoming midterm elections.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has said that he is “hellbent” on getting immigration reform passed this year, but doesn’t trust President Barack Obama and the rest of the Democrats in Congress to implement reform properly. As the two parties remain split, platitudes keep being launched from both sides, but action remains largely non-existent.
The Republican side has seen some movement, however. California Rep. Jeff Denham is working on a bill that would allow illegal aliens to become citizens if they serve in the US military, and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart – who has been on the front lines of the immigration movement for several months – is reportedly working on legislation to allow undocumented workers to apply for legalization through existing channels. Boehner apparently wants this bill ready for a vote no later than July.
The video statements of both Reps. Schock and Kinzinger (in that order) can be viewed below: