The issue of immigration reform is coming back to Congress, and this time it appears Republicans will be driving the action. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told groups in San Antonio this week that the GOP wants to pass legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to "come out of the shadows and reintegrate into society." Sources told the POLITICO that House votes are expected by the end of the summer on at least four separate bills, each dealing with an individual aspect of reform like border security, guest worker visas, and a path to legal status for illegals already in the country. The GOP is trying a piecemeal approach as an alternative to the massive, comprehensive immigration reform bill passed in the Senate last year.
Norman Adams with the group Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy says it's about time for the GOP to get out in front and get something done on this issue. "Grassroots Republicans want a solution," he tells KTRH. "They don't want amnesty, but they want to identify and tax these people, they do not want to deport them--because they know who's doing the work." Indeed, some factions of the GOP are pushing reform because they rely on the labor of immigrants and are seeking a "legal" way to employ them. Beyond that, Adams says some kind of legal status for undocumented workers just makes sense. "Are we gonna deport 20 million people? No---we need to identify them and tax them, and that's what the plan does."
House Republican leadership is likely to face some stiff opposition from conservatives on any bill that includes a "pathway." Among those already suspicious is William Gheen, with the anti-illegal immigration group ALIPAC. "They will claim they're gonna secure the border and they won't, they'll claim the illegals must pay a fine and learn English, then ten years later you'll find out they didn't make them learn English, they didn't make them pay the fine," he says. For many Republicans, passing some sort of immigration reform will get the issue off the table, but Gheen thinks they should be careful what they wish for. "If they legalize illegal immigrants in any way, it's going to mean in about ten years Republicans won't be getting elected to dog catcher," he says.