House Introduces Immigration Legislation

According to the Chicago Tribune, a group of House Republicans have introduced alternative immigration legislation to derail the legislation in the Senate. The House legislation takes a tougher stance against immigration that would block illegal immigrants from becoming citizens and demands that the US government focus on enforcing current immigration laws.

According to the Tribune:  “Called the Secure Borders FIRST Act, the new bill focuses on improving security at the border, stiffening sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and establishing a market-based temporary guest worker program, which would allow immigrants into the country on 10-month renewable visas. It also increases penalties for gang membership and identity theft, and establishes English as the official language of the United States.”

According to the Tribune, proponents of immigrant rights denied that the House legislation would have an effect on the Senate process.

“There’s nothing surprising about this,” said Angela Kelley, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum. “It is about the most predictable piece of legislation coming from the most predictable players in the House Republican Caucus.”
Even though the Democrats control the House, it will be an uphill battle to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, since several newly-elected House Democrats would most likely vote against such reform.  However, House leaders have been exploring offering smaller legislation to address different components of the immigration debate, including agricultural workers and skilled workers visas.