Immigration reform bill up for debate

  • By: Michael Scotto
  • 07/10/2013 09:03 PM

The White House is trying to pressure House Republicans to pass the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill that the Senate passed last month. They released a new report on the economic benefits of the plan. As YNN's Michael Scotto reports, it seems like border security and the path to citizenship are the bigger concerns. (Video at source link.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Top GOP leaders emerged from Wednesday's closed door meeting feeling optimistic that they can tackle immigration reform.

"There's an emerging consensus that our immigration system is broken and there is a consensus we need to fix it and we need to do it in a very thorough way and the right way," said Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan.

But that is where the consensus appears to end. After a lengthy discussion, the issue of offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants remains a major sticking point.

"I think a lot of us agree that a path to citizenship for those adults who broke the law coming in this country is a non starter. Everything else is up for discussion," said New York Representative Chris Collins.

"I think legalization ultimately leads to citizenship. That is the ultimate goal. But I think there's a step in between because there are a lot of people on the waiting line right now waiting for their citizenship," said New York Representative Michael Grimm.

There is some talk of drafting a bill that would give citizenship to undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Whatever consensus emerges from the House will likely be addressed in a piecemeal way. Republicans have ruled out a vote on the Senate bill, which many unfavorably compare to Obamacare.

The Obama Administration is hoping some pressure will convince the House to change its mind and take up the Senate bill. Just hours before House Republicans met, the President huddled at the White House with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

"We are convinced that immigration reform is now," said Texas Representative Ruben Hinojosa said.

Republicans are well aware of the public campaign the White House is prepared to wage.

"We realize the optics of this, both policy and politically, and we don't want the White House to somehow the backdrop is to hope that we fail so they can make it a campaign issue," said Texas Representative Michael McCaul.

Those optics appear to be driving the House to take action. But what will eventually emerge is a huge question that likely won't be resolved for months.