Politics, government and public life for Southern California

House immigration bill: plead guilty before seeking legal status

Gage Skidmore/Flickr/Creative Commons

Once the House introduces its immigration reform bill, conservative Republican lawmakers such as Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach are expected to be a tough sell.

There's been little news about the immigration bill being crafted by a bipartisan group of House members. But it's likely to be tougher than the 844-page bill crafted by the Senate's "Gang of Eight." 

How tough? According to "Roll Call," immigrants would have to go to court, plead guilty to breaking the law — entering this country illegally — and accept probation as the first step to citizenship. 

The House of Representatives is not only majority-Republican, but many of those GOP members are considerably to the right of much of the rest of the party, labeling any immigration reform as "amnesty." They say law breakers shouldn't be rewarded.

Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach says legalizing the status of people who are here illegally would do nothing but "bring more millions of people here to the United States in order to have their status normalized and put their families into a position to get benefits and take jobs."

Under the proposal outlined in "Roll Call," undocumented immigrants would have to appear in federal court. After pleading guilty to breaking immigration laws, they would be sentenced to probation of perhaps five years. A GOP aide compared it to drug crimes where offenders plead guilty, but avoid jail time, which saves the taxpayers money. Those immigrants would still be eligible for citizenship after about a decade.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Campaign for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles says any legislation "should not rest on the notion that immigrants must be embarrassed, degraded, or taken through undignified and unnecessary steps.”

It's unclear whether the proposal will win over hard-liners in the House. Riverside Republican  Ken Calvert says he could vote for "some kind of legal status, though not citizenship." 


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