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Republican Reps. and Boyda Come Out Against Bush's Path to Citizenship Plan

April 4, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

A group of Representatives today sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asking her to oppose any legislation that would allow immigrants who are currently here illegally, to participate in a path to citizenship program. The letter below was signed by 97 members of the House of Representatives. It was written and circulated by Representatives Brian Bilbray (R-CA)[at right] and Lamar Smith (R-TX). Where they state, in the first line, that the group of supporters is “Democratic and Republican,” they are referring to the fact that one Democrat , Nancy Boyda (D-KS), accompanied 96 Republicans in signing the letter. A complete list of signees will be posted as soon as it is available.

Office of the Speaker

H-232, US Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

>Dear Speaker Pelosi:

>We are Democratic and Republican Members who are united in asking you not to bring amnesty legislation to the House floor.
>Citizenship is the greatest honor and responsibility our country can offer. Millions of people around the world play by the rules, obey the law, and often wait years for the opportunity to legally immigrate.
>When Congress granted permanent residence to millions of illegal immigrants in 1986, we required them to wait, pay a fine, and “learn” English. The result was legally and publicly recognized as amnesty.
>Amnesty hurts vulnerable American workers, burdens American taxpayers, and rewards lawbreakers. It encourages more illegal immigration. And it tells all those who have patiently waited abroad for their turn to come to the United States that they are foolish.
>The United States has the most generous legal immigration system in the world. We should take the side of American workers and taxpayers, legal immigrants and the rule of law. Please oppose any effort to put illegal immigrants on the path to amnesty.

The signees define “amnesty” as requiring illegal immigrants to “wait, pay a fine, and ‘learn’ English.” This puts them at odds with the President because what they describe as “amnesty” is almost exactly what he wants immigration legislation to look like. Here is how the President describes his path to citizenship plan, which he describes as “a rational middle ground between a program of mass deportation and a program of automatic amnesty:”

>Workers who have entered the country illegally and workers who have overstayed their visas must pay a substantial penalty for their illegal conduct.
>In addition to paying a meaningful penalty, undocumented workers must learn English, pay their taxes, pass a background check, and hold a job for a number of years before they will be eligible to be considered for legalized status.
>Any undocumented worker seeking citizenship must go to the “back of the line.” The program should not reward illegal conduct by making participants eligible for citizenship ahead of those who have played by the rules and followed the law. Instead, program participants must wait their turn at the back of the line.

Besides being favored by the President, a path to citizenship program for illegal immigrants is included in the bipartisan-supported comprehensive immigration reform bill currently in the House. Here’s what the bill, which is sponsored by Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Luis Guittierez (D-IL), proposes:

>Illegal immigrants would be eligible for legalization if they arrived in the U.S. before June 1, 2006. They would have to pay a $2,000 fine and back taxes, and pass background and security checks. If after six years they have learned English and civics, kept a clean record, and the head of household has left and reentered the U.S. legally, they could become legal permanent residents, a step toward citizenship.

Here is a list of all 97 Representatives who signed the letter.

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