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Diaz-Balart: House Immigration Plan Will Be ‘Stricter’ Than Senate’s

Image: Diaz-Balart: House Immigration Plan Will Be ‘Stricter’ Than Senate’s U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami.

Friday, 19 Apr 2013 08:43 AM

By Melanie Batley

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart says the House immigration reform legislation due to be unveiled within a month will be “a lot tighter, stricter” on border security than the Senate’s package announced on Wednesday.

According to Politico, the Florida Republican also criticized the Senate bill’s guest worker visa proposals, saying they “would not work … because they seem to be so low.”

“We’re going to have differences on triggers, we’re going to have differences on border security, we’re going to have differences in how we’re going to deal with folks already here,” said Diaz-Balart, who is part of a bipartisan House group working on an immigration plan of its own.

“I think you’re going to see a House bill that’s frankly a lot tighter, stricter than the Senate bill.”

His comments set the stage for what promises to be a difficult negotiation with the Senate over a final bill.

Although details of the House version have not yet been released, Politico reported that it’s likely to require that border security problems be solved before offering any path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. That process to become a U.S. citizen could take as long as 20 years, compared to the Senate plan’s 13 years.

The House and Senate versions may also clash over plans for a guest-worker program.

Diaz-Balart indicated the Senate proposal for 185,000 guest-worker visas over four years may be too low, and not broad enough to stem the tide of illegal immigrants crossing the border in search of work.

“The question has to be asked, can we put together a temporary worker system for low-skilled workers that will work, that will satisfy the needs of the economy?” he said. “And I think that most people that are seriously looking at it — including industry — are questioning whether [the Senate proposal] is a good deal. … I have my serious doubts,” he added.

Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American, has been a longtime proponent of immigration reform.

“All I can tell you is that to me, it’s essential to deal with the reality that there are 10 or 11 million people here who we have to deal with,” he said.

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