Some conservative Republicans in Congress are lambasting the newly-released immigration “principles” outlined by the House GOP as the slog to potential new legislation continues.
The hawkish critics depicted the principles, unveiled late on Thursday, as misguided and essentially rewarding lawbreakers.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and Tea Party favorite, took aim earlier in the day at leaked information that the one-page document called for allowing undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States legally if they meet certain requirements.
“I think it would be a mistake if House Republicans were to support amnesty for those here illegally,” Cruz told Bloomberg News.
Cruz said that immigration reform needed to focus primarily on border security, streamlining the legal immigration process and dissuading people from entering and living in the United States illegally.
Later, in a statement to conservative news site Breitbart.com, Cruz said: “Anyone pushing an amnesty bill right now should go ahead and put a ‘Harry Reid for Majority Leader’ bumper sticker on their car, because that will be the likely effect if Republicans refuse to listen to the American people and foolishly change the subject from Obamacare to amnesty.”
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, also had harsh words for the principles.
“Once again, we have the same recycled talking points—crafted, it would appear, with the help of the same consultants and special interests,” Sessions said in a statement. “Each time, the talking points are followed by legislation that fails to match the promises—legislation that, at bottom, ensures only the amnesty and not the enforcement.”
Sessions said allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to work and live in the United States would help create more competition for unemployed Americans in the job market.
“It would surge the already unprecedented level of legal lesser-skilled immigration to the U.S. that is reducing wages and increasing unemployment,” he said, “and it would offer eventual citizenship to a large number of illegal immigrants and visa overstays.”
House Republican leaders, who hold the majority in that congressional chamber and include conservatives who have fought proposals to provide any break to undocumented immigrants, released the non-binding set of principles that calls for tightening interior and border enforcement and allowing people who are in the United States unlawfully to legalize their status.
The document drew the line at a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, saying it would be unfair to those who have played by the rules.
The document provided no details, however, about the legal path it allowed for those unlawfully here.
While some Republicans criticized the plan, others in the House, including Florida’s Mario Diaz-Balart and Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, defended it.
Ryan told reporters it did not provide amnesty, as its critics have charged.
“That is the kind of broad brush here — that is the kind of process we envision that is not a special pathway to citizenship, and it is not automatically, in any way, giving an undocumented immigrant citizenship,” Ryan said.
Meanwhile, President Obama made headlines of his own on the thorny immigration issue.
He indicated in a CNN interview on Thursday that he would be open to going along with legislation that helped legalize undocumented immigrants, even if did not include a path to naturalized citizenship.
Yet that perspective doesn’t seem in line with comments made the same day by U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, of California, who noted that denying citizenship would be a deal-breaker for her.