CAMBRIDGE, Md. — House Republican leaders on Thursday proposed legal status for most undocumented immigrants, a stance aimed at helping the party appeal to Hispanic voters but also likely to further divided an already-torn Republican Party.
"There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation's immigration laws," said the draft statement of standards presented to House Republicans at a retreat at a Maryland resort.
But, the statement said, "these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families without access to public benefits."
Criminal aliens, gang members and sex offenders would be ineligible. And, the statement says, "none of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced."
The draft is similar to proposals introduced in the Senate last year before they became legislation. The Senate then passed a comprehensive measure, with bipartisan support, that would provide a 13-year path to citizenship and tougher border security and enforcement. The House plan suggested potential progress toward immigration-law changes. But the key House-Senate difference is that the House Republican principles do not include a path to citizenship.