The first major push for immigration reforms since 1986 came under attack Tuesday by members of the Grand Old Party (GOP), who questioned the core element of the plan that aims to offer illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
Crafting out what they call a middle ground option, the House Republicans said that while they remain open to letting illegal immigrants live and work in US, allowing them permanent citizenships is something totally out of question.
Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committeebelieves that lawful residency is an option that will neither deport illegal immigrants, mostly Hispanic, back to their country, nor will it place them on the path to citizenship.
However, a greater fear among the GOP lawmakers is a repetition of the last big immigration push in 1986 that resulted in granting three million illegal immigrants, a legal status. It was a step taken to stop the flow of undocumented people in the country but it resulted in even worse illegal immigration.
"We look at the promises of the 1986 immigration reform when we granted citizenship to so many people, that we were going to seal the border and make sure this was a one-time deal ... and we see that that has failed," Republican Blake Farenthold of Texas told the Judiciary Committee.
"My question to you is: How do we not end up in the same situation 10, 20 years down the road if we do this again?" he asked San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who is a rising Hispanic star in the Democratic Party and a witness at the immigration hearing.
Castro, whose twin brother, Joaquin, is also a Democratic Rep from Texas, said that a path to citizenship means that all illegal immigrants will be required to learn English, pay their taxes and fines before that would be granted U.S citizenship and therefore they will have to earn it before they get what they want.
Republicans also argue that the country’s borders must be secured first before going ahead with the comprehensive immigration reforms or granting citizenship to 11 million illegal immigrants which are already in the country for many years.
Pointing to the steep drop in the number of people coming from Mexico, Spokesman Jay Carney said the White House had already met many of the Republican criteria for border security.
"Close to all of those goals, if not all of those goals, have been met because of the president's commitment to enhanced border security," he said.