Seung Min Kim, Politico, January 9, 2014
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) says he sees “no reason” why current undocumented immigrants shouldn’t gain legal status as long as Congress enacts tougher border-security and enforcement measures.
In a Telemundo interview set to air Sunday, Goodlatte addressed the set of immigration principles that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said earlier Thursday is expected to be released in the “coming weeks.”
While not delving into specifics of the document, Goodlatte said the principles are meant to show the broader House Republican Conference how all the pieces of immigration reform would fit together and ultimately “galvanize” support among lawmakers.
Goodlatte outlined three pillars of an overhaul–ensuring border enforcement, fixing the legal immigration system and determining a legal status for immigrants already in the country illegally. He stressed that interior enforcement was a major point of focus for Republicans, noting that as much of 40 percent of undocumented immigrants did not cross a border illegally, but overstayed a visa.
“If we can have a way to get [enforcement] up and operating, I see no reason why we can’t also have an agreement that shows how people who are not lawfully here can be able to be lawfully here–able to live here, work here, travel to and from their home country, be able to own a business, pay their taxes,” Goodlatte, a veteran lawmaker who was an immigration lawyer before coming to Congress, said on the Telemundo show “Enfoque,” according to a transcript of the interview.
The principles effort is spearheaded by House GOP leadership, but key Republican lawmakers such as Goodlatte and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida have been consulted during the drafting stage. It’s not expected to be a long document; Boehner told reporters Thursday that the “standards and principles” would “guide us in a common-sense, step-by-step approach to dealing with immigration.”