Rep. Paul Ryan says the proposal set out in the Senate's immigration reform bill offering a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants is not "amnesty" as opponents have put it, but "earned legalization."
The Republican from Wisconsin pledged he would "debate anybody" who believed otherwise, Yahoo News reported
"Earned legalization is not amnesty," Ryan said during a forum on immigration sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers. He pointed to conditions in the Senate immigration bill that would require illegal immigrants to pay a fine, back taxes, undergo extensive background checks, and sit out a probationary period before starting the path to citizenship, which could take up to 15 years.
"I will debate anybody who tried to suggest that these ideas that are moving through Congress are amnesty. They're not. Amnesty is wiping the slate clean and not paying any penalty for having done something wrong."
Ryan has become one of the House GOP's most vocal supporters of immigration reform, especially since fellow Republican Raul Labrador of Idaho left
the House's own Gang of Eight.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted
by a huge 82-15 majority to begin debate and amendments on the bipartisan Gang of Eight's immigration proposals.
Ryan said he expected the bill to be broken up into several pieces of legislation so as to allow its ultimate passage through the Senate. He said he expected the House would take a similar approach.
"One big bill usually crashes under its own weight. That's what we had in 2006. But if we had a bill that's broken up into a few pieces, all of which can join in the end of a process, then you can get all of these things moving," he said.
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