Two conservative panelists disagreed sharply on Saturday over the future of immigration reform during what is becoming a heated debate in Washington.
Speaking at the National Review Institute 2013 Summit, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies Mark Krikorian said that wholesale immigration reform has no future so long as there is no enforcement of current law.
He argued in favor of some form of legalizing the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. and cleaning up existing law “so we don’t get another 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.”
Nationally syndicated talk show host Hugh Hewitt said that he is certain Congress will pass immigration reform and President Obama will sign it this year.
“That train is coming,” Hewitt said, adding that lawmakers need to add additional measures such as school choice reform for children of illegal immigrants. “Republicans need to figure out what to put on that train.”
The debate occurred as Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, voiced confidence in the prospects for immigration reform in the House, saying that a bipartisan group of lawmakers “basically [has] an agreement” after more than three years of secret talks.
“I said it the day after the election. I meant it, and we’re going to have to deal with it,” Boehner recently said in remarks reported by The Hill. “I think there’s a bipartisan group of members that have been meeting now for three or four years. Frankly, I think they basically have an agreement. I’ve not seen the agreement. I don’t know all the pitfalls in it, but it’s in my view, the right group of members.”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told Newsmax that discussions have taken place among Republican lawmakers, but no bill has been introduced.
“Informal groups of members constantly meet to discuss all kinds of issues — including immigration,” Steel said.
So far, the Senate has taken the lead on the issue with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida presenting an outline earlier this month. He is developing a wide-ranging immigration reform plan — including steps to give more than 11 million illegals currently in the U.S. legal status — but he has yet to introduce a specific bill.
President Barack Obama, after meeting with Hispanic congressional leaders on Friday at the White House, will make an announcement on immigration reform during a trip to Las Vegas on Tuesday. The White House said in a statement that “any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship.”
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