The Republican members of the Gang of Ocho are divided over whether or not former-Gov. Jeb Bush’s call for immigration reform without a path to citizenship undermined their efforts to pass a bill with Senate Democrats.
“I just think this proposal caught me off guard, and it undercuts what we’re trying to do,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told The Huffington Post. “A bill without a pathway to citizenship wouldn’t go anywhere in the Senate,” The Huffington Post reported.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., disagrees. “I think we’re still in the same place in terms of not wanting there to be a special advantage for people who have broken the law,” Rubio said of Bush’s new immigration stance. “What I understand he’s outlined … is kind of something I thought about for a long time and ultimately concluded that it probably isn’t good for the country to have millions of people here who are permanently barred [from] even applying for citizenship. … It’s been a disaster for Europe,” Rubio told Politico.
But the United States already has 12 million legal permanent residents, many of whom say it is too difficult to become citizens. According to a Pew Hispanic Center survey of Hispanic legal permanent residents, “asked in an open-ended question why they hadn’t naturalized, 26% identified personal barriers such as a lack of English proficiency, and an additional 18% identified administrative barriers, such as the financial cost of naturalization.”
The problem with Europe’s immigration system is not the presence of legal permanent residents unable to become citizens. It’s that most European countries deny birthright citizenship to the children of legal permanent residents. This is a key wedge that prevents immigrant communities from assimilating in Europe. It is no coincidence that ending birthright citizenship is one of the solutions Graham has promoted in the past to make a U.S. guest worker program workable. It is a terrible idea.