This Week in Immigration Reform: Is the House Considering Citizenship?

The big question in immigration reform this week and next is simple. What will the House of Representatives be able to accomplish before the August recess? 

In unsurprising news, we will not see the Gang of Seven’s comprehensive immigration reform bill until September at the earliest. The Washington Post’s Plum Line got the scoop on some details related to the legalization process, reporting that the bill will “take the provisional legal status and right to work granted to the undocumented at the outset [in the Senate bill] and reconfigure it as ‘probation,’” and “put into place a new trigger involving E-Verify that would be required to end that period of ‘probation.’”

In his weekly press briefing, Speaker John Boehner addressed the need for immigration reform, specifically mentioning legal status for DREAMers. On Wednesday, he announced his support for extending citizenship to DREAMers, but he has continually skirted the issue of his potential support for a pathway to citizenship for the broader undocumented population. Ideally, Boehner has said “he hopes the House will pass immigration reform before it addresses the debt ceiling this fall.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid made it known that the Senate will not consider House legislation if it restricts a potential path to citizenship to DREAMers only. President Obama, in a set of interviews with four Spanish-language television stations, reiterated the need for a comprehensive approach that includes a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants.

A pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, which is still facing resistance from some Republicans, will be the topic at Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security hearing.  A Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing will address the “House and Senate Approaches to Border Security,” also on Tuesday.

While August might be a quiet time in Washington, it will be a key moment for action in districts. How effective will the many pro-reform campaigns and calls to action from the likes of Sen. John McCain be at persuading Republican members of the House? Will we see more anti-reform and anti-citizenship protests like the one held last week? I’m sure we will continue to see commentary from both sides. Two opinion pieces supporting comprehensive reform worth the read from the last week come from conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin and David Plouffe and Steve Schmidt, architects of the 2008 Obama and McCain presidential campaigns.

Will we see more Republicans, like Colorado’s Mike Coffman did this weekend, come out in favor of comprehensive reform? Don’t expect the GOP to support a comprehensive approach, or even immigration reform in general. Take Rep. Steve King for example. In an interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos last weekend, he declared a path to citizenship for DREAMers would “violate the rule of law.”

Across the country, mayors and public servants are facilitating immigrant integration. We know we will continue to see such efforts locally, such as New York City’s $18 million investment in adult education courses for potential DACA applicants or University of Michigan’s extension of in-state tuition to undocumented students.