Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

House Plan: Illegal Immigrants Sentenced to Probation

House immigration negotiators believe they might have found a way to soften conservative criticism directed at a proposal that would provide millions of illegal immigrants with a pathway to citizenship.

The House immigration working group has tentatively settled on a plan that would require illegal immigrants to appear in federal court and plead guilty to breaking U.S. immigration law. Illegal immigrants would be required to complete this step before embarking on a conditional pathway to citizenship that would take at least a decade. In fact, illegal immigrants would essentially be granted legal status when a federal judge sentences them to “probation” for illegally crossing the border.

“The legal process in the House bill is stiffer to emphasize that the law was broken, and to [recognize] the need to uphold the rule of law,” said a Republican congressional aide familiar with the House immigration working group’s negotiations.

An undocumented immigrant’s probation sentence would likely come with certain conditions and run about five years, and then be renewed for another five years to cover the assumed 10-year path-to-citizenship timetable. The GOP congressional aide described the process as similar to how judges handle small drug crimes, in which offenders are sentenced to probation, rather than jail, because it forces them to acknowledge that they broke the law but saves taxpayers the expense of incarceration.

No comprehensive immigration overhaul is likely to clear Congress without legalizing the millions of illegal immigrants residents and offering them a path to eventual citizenship. Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama would assuredly block it, not to mention decline to agree to Republican demands for tougher border enforcement and a conditional, multiyear process to achieve citizenship.

But supporting an immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship remains the biggest political challenge for Republicans. Many conservative activists — and some Republican lawmakers — opposed to comprehensive immigration reform have vocally savaged the Senate’s “gang of eight” compromise, in particular over its citizenship pathway component.

Anticipating a similar uproar as any House bill moves forward, the House immigration working group of four Democrats and four Republicans have developed a proposal aimed at placating conservatives who are opposed in principle to a pathway to citizenship on the grounds that it allows illegal immigrants to profit from breaking the law; weakens the rule of law overall; and sends the wrong message to millions of people who are playing by the rules and trying immigrate legally.

The Republican congressional aide said the House group understands that GOP members are concerned about the “amnesty” tag and are doing everything they can to make it clear that their bill forces illegal immigrants to admit their crime and undertake an arduous path to citizenship. The House group’s goal, the aide said, is to stop the problem of illegal immigration once and for all, so that 10 years from now the number of undocumented immigrants has not increased from approximately 11 million to 30 million.

But this individual acknowledged that it’s probably impossible to satisfy the most ardent critics, who will label as “amnesty” any legislation that includes a path to citizenship. “If that’s the case, then our bill is amnesty,” the aide said.

  • CACorey

    But see, to conservatives, any legal status is “amnesty” and it is the biggest roadblock to any immigration reform effort. One of two things has to happen – ignore them and take the political risk, but at least you’ll have legislation. OR they will win and block anything with a legalization aspect. Woe to the Republicans that remain the party of “self deportation”, of SB1070, of “enforce the law, deport ’em all.” Immigrants, first or second generation, have children of voting age and can you blame them for thinking such a party is hostile to them, their families, their communities, and respond with hostility in return? Republicans/conservatives, on this issue, need to wake up, quick. The Rubio way, the Ryan way, to a degree the Rand Paul and Raul Labrador way is the right way, the comprehensive way. Embrace comprehensive reform. For one, it’s leverage for stronger enforcement and border security mandates.

    • PJM

      Well forgiveness for past wrongdoing IS amnesty. It’s easy to say that only Republicans oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, but I am a Democrat-leaning independent and I oppose amnesty as well. You can pretend all you want that forgiving illegal immigrants for their wrongdoing is not amnesty. You can pretend that rewarding them on top of that with U.S. citizenship is not an outrage. But it is amnesty and it is an outrage. No bill that gives amnesty to illegal immigrants will or should pass this Congress. And the illegal immigrants, if they want to blame someone, should look in the mirror. Nobody forced them to break our immigration laws. I am sick and tired of law-abiding American citizens being asked to feel guilty for the wrongdoing of others.

      • CACorey

        I’ve come to terms with it being a conditional amnesty. It’s the best option and it’s what I support on the merits, no bones about it.

  • DrSquishy

    When is the House gang of 8 going to release their bill.

    • thestormy

      Next week. It guts what was left of E-Verify after napolitano allows illegals to access their E-Verify records and change anything that they deem,”false information.”

  • PJM

    I am not a conservative Republican. Indeed I am an Obama voter and support the Democrats on most issues. Immigration is NOT one of them. I oppose the Gang of Eight plan because, as much as I hate to admit it, the right is correct on this. It is amnesty. This House proposal is a little better because it at least forces illegal immigrants to admit wrongdoing. However, before I would support it I would have to see more. Will the House proposal increase the pathetically low ($2,000) fine that the Senate bill suggests (and which, in any event, could be waived)? Will the House proposal require real border security as a prerequisite to legalization? Or will the House follow the Senate path and talk about the Government having to come up with plans that never need to be implemented? I rarely agree with the House GOP but it seems that the House is at least headed down a more sensible path. Any bill that rewards illegal immigrants with citizenship without a stiff fine (at least $10,000 per person, non-waivable) and an acknowledgement of wrongdoing will not get my support. And Republicans need worry about it. Independent voters such as myself will not punish Republicans for demanding that the rule of law be respected. And the only people who will reward Democrats for insisting on amnesty without any real concrete border security measures are either illegal immigrants (who shouldn’t be voting anyway), families of illegal immigrants, or so far to the left that the Democrats already have their votes in the bag.

    • Larry Launer

      Well at least a Dem and Repub can agree on one thing , NO AMNESTY , We’ll work on the obomba voting thing, lol

    • Stan J.

      This House scheme is still AMNESTY, even if illegal aliens receive “probation.”

      What a joke.

  • ricardoh

    This is the proper way to go about immigration reform. First you scrap what you have been working on. Then you build a wall all the way across the border. Then you get a handle on all the people who fly into the country on a visa. Then you scrap the law that allows citizenship to anyone born in this country from illegal aliens. Any family that has anyone connected to a gang gets deported. After all of these things are completed you come up with an approach to allowing someone to apply for citizenship after they become fluent in English. Forget all the talk about back taxes and fines most of these people don’t have any money so that is just something to talk about trying to sell the idea. In the mean time any illegal alien who wants to become a citizen has one month to register as an illegal alien.

  • jskdn

    The Mary Kay plan, where the cosmetics caucus proposes putting putting a lipstick on the pig!

  • Dean B

    What about the cost of this process and the impact it will have on our already strained court system? Having them admit to breaking the law is fine, but to put the judicial system under further pressure all for the sake of appearance is just dumb.

  • Tom Smith

    Yup, folks, probationairy status would be Amnesty.
    Anything short of deportation is Amnesty.

  • thestormy

    Here’s my solution for illegals to pay the American tax payers back for what they have stolen from us over the many years.

    Illegals cost tax payers $113 billion yearly in Fed. Gov. subsidies alone,not counting what each state spends on them. Every illegal in every family pays their part of the $113 billion for every year that they have been in America illegally. They also pay the state or states in which they have resided. When this money is returned to American tax payers,then we will talk,not before then. in the meantime illegals jump in line behind the people who are trying to get to America legally. You do not stay in America while you wait. Go home or break into some other nation illegally given the fact that it doesn’t seam to be a problem for you.

    If we need workers so badly,put Americans back to work. We will work,we worked the fields in GA. for $9.00 an hour. We went back to work in Alabama & many other states that enforce the st. immigration laws.

    At that point,if workers are still needed,bring in the people who have been waiting in line legally for years to come in the right way. They are the kind of people our ancestors were. Coming through Ellis Island,going through health exams,not expecting to survive off of the stolen tax payers money.

    No Visa Workers,45% of them here now are on Fed. Gov. supplements as well,because they are paid such low wages. Americans do not need to be subsidizing companies who refuse to pay reasonable wages. If you can’t pay reasonable wages,you need close your doors or have only family working until you can do better.

    There isn’t enough space for me to cover all of the problems with illegals in America,so I will leave it with one last thing. Illegals are being used by the Gov.,Chamber of Commerce & other groups to lower our middle class wages & throw America into a 3rd world nation. Middle class wages have plummeted. That has been no accident. It is a well thought out plan from both party’s.

    Understand this;we have a one party system working against the people.
    God bless all & be safe,
    A disgruntled American!!

    • JosephP

      I doubt that your $113 billion per year figure is correct—it works out to $10,000 per illegal! And what about the fact that many illegals have fake identities and are paying taxes, Social
      Security, and Medicare—benefits they will never collect? Does that figure account for that?

      That number sounds like the typical baloney from the Heritage Foundation.

      • thestormy

        It has been proven that over all considering the the little money that is payed in,is far less than the money they steal form American tax payers. No this did not come from the Heritage Foundation. The IRS.

        As for social security,bush set up a social security fund in Mexico for illegal Mexicans who work in the U.S. The s s. money is sent to Mexico.
        There are people like bho’s aunt who are here drawing s.s. & s.s. disability benefits,housing,food stamps,utility bills pd. who have never worked one day in the U.S. That woman (bho’s Aunt) said,”If I make it to America,it is America’s responsibility to take care of me.”

  • JosephP

    What about illegals that were brought over as children by their parents? Are they criminals? Many don’t even speak their native language—they have never spoken anything but English and know nothing about their original country. Should they be required to “self-deport?”

  • diocleti

    Overstaying a visa is not a crime. Supremes might have a tiny problem with forcing people to plead guilty to things they didn’t do. (Improper entry is a federal misdemeanor, but rarely prosecuted, and doesn’t apply to entry with a visa.) Are you sure these staffers are well informed on this subject?

    • Chris Nunez

      This is not a matter of factual and accurate information for legislative purposes, this is ‘get tough on crime rhetoric’ that will always get votes, no matter what it costs our state, local and federal government.

  • Bernie R

    Is “crossing the border illegally” a felony? Is it a Federal Crime only? Who sets the terms for probation? What sentence is imposed for violators? Who pays for it? Who oversees it (DHS? DSHS? State Dep.)? How will this new beurocracy go over with tea-party constituents? Pls. clarify.

    • Chris Nunez

      Crossing the border without proper documents is an ‘infraction’. And the tea-party folks don’t know, don’t care how much it costs to put people on probation, and how that will effect the already starving tax coffers of both states and the feds…. they just want to sound ‘tough on crime’ it’s always a sure vote getter… even if it breaks the bank.

  • Chris Nunez

    Say what? Just when our nation is beginning to not only empty the prisons, but lighten the load of probation officers (Both costly to the public tax roll) the GOP get’s another crazy idea that will only make things worse for the whole country, not just immigrants, but everybody!

  • 44219

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