A bi-partisan group of senators in Washington called the “Gang of Eight” is expected to unveil an immigration reform plan early next month. Immigrant advocates hope it will include a “pathway to citizenship” for many of those in the country without documents. Some of those advocates rallied outside the Kalamazoo office of Congressman Fred Upton (R-Saint Joseph) on Good Friday.
Upton says he expects a reform plan to pass Congress this summer, and is pretty sure that he’ll support it, but is still waiting for details. He says a bipartisan group in the House is also working on the issue.
Upton says he’d like to see a “pathway to legitimacy” for people in the U.S. who are undocumented. He says that should requirements for proficiency in English, payment of taxes, and criminal background checks. Upton also says there needs to be an “orderly process” allowing undocumented immigrants the opportunity to stay in the country legally. Upton says that means that those here now without permission should go to the end of the line and not jump ahead of those already seeking citizenship. However, he says “extenuating circumstances” could favor people in some categories, like those serving in the armed forces.
Upton says the U.S. immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed to help the economy as well as people seeking citizenship. Many farms and other businesses in southwest Michigan depend on migrant workers.
Asked if the current movement toward reform is related to waning GOP support among Latinos, Upton says his party has been interested in immigration reform for years.