Kinzinger says a secure border must be the first step in any immigration overhaul. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
An immigration overhaul may seem like a toxic issue to most in the GOP, but, in Illinois, it’s a battle cry.
Illinois Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Aaron Schock delivered video testimonials, recorded in the same room, for a pro-immigration event being hosted Tuesday in Chicago by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, which also features former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
In his video, Kinzinger says, “Now, more than ever, Americans are seeing firsthand how our broken immigration system is really holding our nation back. Through common-sense policies, we have the opportunity to grow our economy, and provide security and well-paying jobs for families all across Illinois and America.”
Kinzinger said he is confident the United States can come together to have the “adult conversations” necessary to approve an immigration overhaul, and he endorsed a path to, at least, legal status for undocumented workers in the United States.
“We must work hard to come to an agreement on how to bring undocumented workers out of the shadows, legally entering the workforce and becoming part of the American melting pot that makes this country great,” Kinzinger said, adding that securing U.S. borders “must be the first step of the reform process.”
Schock had a similar, even stronger message in his video testimonial: He endorsed a pathway to citizenship.
“Quite frankly, I think if a man or a woman likes their American job, wherever they were born, they should be able to keep that job,” he said. “We need a clear path to citizenship for workers who are already here and a fair and efficient on-ramp for those who want to come here.”
Schock said it had been 30 years since Congress had taken any “significant action” to address immigration, seemingly referring to the “Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,” and he noted that some workers have been waiting 10 years for permanent status.
“That’s long enough,” he said.
The news of Kinzinger and Schock making such public declarations of support for an immigration overhaul had Democratic immigration advocates giddy on Tuesday. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California issued a statement that said he was “encouraged” by the words of his colleagues.
“I invite Representatives Schock and Kinzinger to sign the discharge petition to demand a vote on the bi-partisan bill (H.R. 15) to finally fix our broken immigration system,” Becerra said. “It’s long past time for the House to act on comprehensive immigration reform and every day that we delay, thousands of families are torn apart by our broken immigration system. It’s time to turn words into action.”
Becerra ended his statement by saying he hoped Speaker John A. Boehner was listening to the growing number of Democrats and Republicans who support an immigration overhaul.
“It’s time to vote,” Becerra said.