When Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office previewed their “Making Life Work” speech to reporters this week, they made a point of mentioning Cantor’s pitch for visa reform that would allow foreign nationals who earn science and math degrees at U.S. universities to stay in the United States. This wasn’t all that surprising considering that the House already passed a bill that would do exactly that last year.
Cantor’s staff also teased that there might be some other minor immigration reform proposals mentioned in the speech, but they were mum on details. On Tuesday, Cantor said this:
While we are a nation that allows anyone to start anew, we are also a nation of laws, and that’s what makes tackling the issue of immigration reform so difficult. In looking to solve this problem soon, we must balance respect for the rule of law and respect for those waiting to enter this country legally, with care for the people and families, most of whom just want to make a better life, and contribute to America.
A good place to start is with the kids. One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.
Cantor never mentioned the DREAM Act by name, but the policy he outlines above largely mirrors the legislation passed by the Democratic Senate and pushed by President Obama last year (and the two years before that).
Cantor’s embrace of STEM, and now DREAM, suggests that House Republicans may be leaning toward piecemeal immigration reform, not a comprehensive bill that would include a broad amnesty for the 11 million immigrants currently living illegally in the United States today.
The Hill reported earlier this week that a secret bipartisan group of House members might release actual immigration legislation either right before or right after Obama’s State of the Union.
Anything that does not include a “path to citizenship” for all of those currently living illegally in the US today would be a huge blow to Obama and the Senate’s Gang of Eight.