Immigration will be a test of how strong the “Tea Party” wing of the Republican Party is. Most Americans support immigration reform. Tea Party representatives come from conservative districts. They are not affected much by national opinion.
Up until now, the Party was all about strengthening border security. Republicans favorable to business also supported more visas for educated immigrants and guest worker programs.
Now some Republicans say they might be able to agree to legalization and citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers.” These are people born outside the U.S. but brought here as youngsters by their undocumented parents.
The House leadership has not said how the Dreamers will be handled, if at all, in the Immigration Reform bill. President Obama created a safety net for Dreamers by executive order last year. Recently the House voted against funding it. It is hard to see how House Republicans can be for and against the Dreamers at the same time.
Republican leadership said they oppose the recently passed Senate bill. They prefer to draft their own. The House Speaker said no bill would get to the floor for a vote unless a majority of the Republicans will vote for it.
Most Republicans remain opposed to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents. However, some favor an approach no different from the one available to immigrants here legally. One leader said he supports allowing immigrants to get temporary legal status. Over time they might qualify as permanent legal residents. Finally, they might become citizens.
The Democrats in the Senate are opposed to any piecemeal approach to passing an Immigration Reform bill.