WASHINGTON - House Republicans are discussing a proposal that would not include a pathway to citizenship in any future immigration reform, but would allow undocumented immigrants to "live legally and without fear" as long as they met certain requirements.
The Republican caucus is reviewing the document, which was obtained Thursday by CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash at a House GOP retreat in Cambridge, Maryland.
The language on undocumented workers reads as follows:
"There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation's immigration laws - that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law. Rather, these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits)...Finally, none of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced."
The document, "Standards for Immigration Reform," acknowledges that the country's immigration system is broken, but said those problems "cannot be solved with a single, massive piece of legislation." It also reiterated that the House will not go to conference with the Senate's immigration bill.
The document indicates that House Republicans will likely pursue measures marked by several key guiding principles, including an insistence that border security and interior enforcement are the federal government's top priority.
The House GOP would also likely insist on the implementation of an effective entry-exit visa tracking system and employment eligibility verification system.
CNN reported Wednesday that House Speaker John Boehner and a group of top Republican leaders were expected to release a set of principles this week to chart the party's strategy forward on immigration legislation.
Boehner has said he plans to move forward on the issue, but there are deep divisions among House Republicans about how to deal with the approximately 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the United States.
While some Republicans and groups supporting major reform argue it will grow the economy by enlarging the legal work force, some party conservatives strongly disagree, arguing unemployment would go up if there is an influx of new legal immigrants.