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Vague Immigration Standards put forth by House Republicans

House Republicans unveiled an immigration reform plan outlining the standards they assert must be met for them to be willing to pass immigration reform legislation.  This plan, however, is not actually a plan.  It vaguely outlines points and principles leaving much vagueness and ambiguity around what their standards actually are, and does not set forth an actual plan, or even promise of a bill.

Their outline does embrace the ideals of the DREAM Act, including citizenship opportunities for minors and young undocumented immigrants who were brought illegally into the United States as children.  It also mentions creating avenues for adults living in the United States illegally to live and work in the country legally without threat of deportation.  They mention that they would support a comprehensive immigration package to provide many of the 11.7 million people living in the United States illegally pathways to stay here without fear of deportation.

However, they also insist that border security “must come first,” and that pathways to legalization cannot “happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented.”  The problem is, like many other terms and principles put forth in the House Republican outline, “specific enforcement triggers” are undefined and may be used to stave off completion of comprehensive immigration reform.  Legislation is defined by the details and the details in this outline are left vague and undefined.

The Republican immigration reform plan is a whole 858 words written on one page.  After rejecting immigration reform legislation negotiated across the isle and passed with bipartisan support, and support from religious, labor and business leaders in the Senate in 2013, House Republicans wrote up negotiated amongst themselves to outline their standards for agreeing to vote on immigration reform legislation.  In the words of Republican House Speaker John Boehner, “These standards are as far as we are willing to go.”

Unfortunately, these hard standards can only be so hard when they are vague.  Another example are the “special pathways,” to citizenship, another term left undefined in the Republican’s outline.  They write, “There will be no special pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrant adults, even though they could be eligible to legally stay in the country to live and work.

The upside to a vague and undefined outline of hard limits is that it leaves wiggle room for bipartisan negotiation.

Source: Benen, Steve.  “House GOP outlines immigration principles,” MSNBC.  January 31, 2014.  http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/house-gop-outlines-immigration-principles