posted on March 21, 2013 11:40
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky became the latest high-profile Republican to explicitly embrace comprehensive immigration reform and endorse the idea that illegal immigrants can get in the back of the line to become citizens without first returning to their native countries. He has worked closely with fellow conservative Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in recent weeks.
A few hours after his speech, Cruz and Lee signed a letter along with four other hard-line members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that asked Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to hold hearings on more aspects of immigration reform before putting any legislation on the calendar for a vote.
Republicans and Democrats involved in the immigration debate say they do not intend to remove the entire population of undocumented immigrants. But the current law insists on it.
It is illegal to be in the United States without papers, but Congress has also decreed that not all undocumented immigrants can be held in detention. In all but the most extreme cases – violent felons, for example – current law gives the federal government broad discretion over who to detain and who to let go.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), on March 19 both indicated that a bipartisan group of eight House members is closing in on an agreement on how to overhaul immigration laws. Hoyer said the plan would include "a pathway toward citizenship" for undocumented immigrants, but he declined to provide specifics.