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NY1 News: House Committee Debates Immigration Reform

A little more than a week after a bipartisan group of senators endorsed a pathway to citizenship undocumented immigrants, a House committee debated immigration reform for the first time this year. But as Washington Bureau Reporter Michael Scotto reports, some House Republicans want to take a different approach.

“Whatever else we disagree on, I think we would agree on that that’s a more toxic contentious issue, granting full amnesty,” said Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus.

Instead, some in the GOP are looking for other options.

“Do you see any compromise area between the current status quo and a path to citizenship?” Texas Representative Lamar Smith asked.

One idea involves breaking up immigration reform and tackling it piece by piece. Among Republicans, there appears to be agreement on giving visas to highly-skilled immigrants. But some Democrats think a fragmented approach misses the point.

“The issue of skilled of immigrants is an important one, but just a small piece of the puzzle that needs to be resolved as it relates to, how do we create an immigration system that more fully, is more consistent with the values that we have as Americans,” said New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries.

Despite partisan differences over how to proceed, there is a growing consensus that something needs to be done. And in a hopeful sign for immigration advocates, some top Republicans are softening their tone.

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor endorsed giving citizenship to young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

“It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and know no other home,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.

In the coming days, the debate could have new parameters, once a bipartisan group of House lawmakers unveils its plan to tackle immigration reform.