A Republican version of the Dream Act has the support of House Speaker John Boehner, who said Wednesday the bill is "about basic fairness" for children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, The Hill reported
"These children were brought here of no accord of their own, and frankly they're in a very difficult position," Boehner said, signaling his support for the bill being written by Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlate, both Virginia Republicans. "And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed."
The bill would be the first effort by the Republican-controlled House to tackle an immigration issue that includes a path to citizenship, even though it would apply to a far smaller group of immigrants when compared with the Senate-passed immigration bill that addresses citizenship for 11 million illegal aliens.
The Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on the proposal next week.
House committees have so far focused their efforts on border security and guest worker issues, with some Republicans in the House arguing that the Senate's proposed path to citizenship is nothing more than an amnesty program for those immigrants who broke the law to come here.
Boehner said it is too early to tell whether the House would take up a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in its effort to come up with a package of immigration reforms.
"The committees are doing their work," Boehner said. "We're going about this in a common-sense, step-by-step approach, and we're trying to be deliberative about how we deal with all of these issues, both fixing the problem of border security [and] internal enforcement, how to fix a broken legal immigration system, and yes, we've got the problem of those who are here that are undocumented."
Previous efforts at a Dream Act directed at immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children have repeatedly failed in the House and Senate.
Last June, in the midst of a presidential campaign, President Barack Obama used his executive powers to essentially give those same immigrants protections from deportation. It was a move seen as key in his bid to win a large majority of Hispanic voters.
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