As the immigration reform debate intensifies, some lawmakers propose a middle ground between deportation and citizenship for illegal immigrants. Critics say that will create a permanent underclass.
Should immigration reform legislation offer people living in the United States illegally a (long) pathway to citizenship? Or would some intermediate step such as legal residency suffice?
That’s a debate that arose this week at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the prospects for fixing America’s rickety immigration system. It’s not a simple argument, given that it involves national and immigrant identity, the reasons some risk their lives to sneak across the US border, simple fairness, and practical considerations about the design of any new immigration system.
It also, perhaps, presages the difficult policy arguments to come as the effort to craft a 2013 reform bill picks up momentum in Congress.
“Are there options that we should consider between the extremes of mass deportation and a pathway to citizenship for those not lawfully present in the United States?” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R) of Virginia at the hearing.
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