At a town hall, top House Republican Bob Goodlatte rejected a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The Virginia Republican told immigration activists and constituents gathered Monday evening that the House has to develop its own immigration bill- even if it doesn’t go anywhere. Meanwhile, he said he will do everything in his power to make sure the House does not take up the comprehensive Senate bill passed in July which includes a pathway to citizenship.
“Will the Senate agree to them? I don’t know,” Goodlatte said. “But I don’t think Republicans in the House … should back away from setting forth the right way to do things.”
“Even if it doesn’t go all the way through to be signed by this president — because I have a hard time, like you do, envisioning him signing some of those things — it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least show the American people that we are interested in solving this very serious problem that we have in our country,” he continued.
According to Goodlatte, the House will proceed with individual immigration bills when legislators return from August recess. They will first take up bills focused on border security, workplace verification, and interior law enforcement. However, the House is only in session for nine days in September, during which it will have to deal with spending bills to avoid a government shutdown.
As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte is an important player in immigration reform. He oversees almost all immigration bills. Goodlatte has said that immigrants could get legal status and use family members or employment to try and eventually get citizenship.
The top Republican’s comments did not go unchallenged at Monday’s town hall, where he faced a crowd of over 200 people with supporters of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill also in attendance. According to the Huffington Post, when an immigrant activist asked supporters of reform to stand, nearly half the crowd rose. One woman wore a shirt that read “We too have a dream: Immigration Reform.”
Despite being pressed about his plan for undocumented immigrants, he did not shown any sign of changing his mind on a path to citizenship.
“The folks who want to have a path to citizenship have held everything else hostage,” he said. “Now we want to say, ‘Look we understand what you want but we think a legal status in the United States but not a special path to citizenship might be appropriate’” once steps including border security have been accomplished.