• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Amnesty: A Path to Permanent Residency Is as Bad as a Path to Citizenship

    The gossip in Washington is that the House of Representatives, unlike the Senate, will not have a path to citizenship, or amnesty, in its immigration reform bills.

    Indeed, just a few days ago, Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) said he would bring immigration bills up for a vote only if a majority of Republicans were for it. Since many Republicans oppose amnesty, this statement would seem to indicate that amnesty would not be included in a House bill. However, there are still reasons to be concerned.

    467x478-REV-capitoldark_logos

    Some in Congress have suggested removing the path to citizenship as found in the Senate’s flawed bill and replacing it with a path to legal permanent residency (LPR). While this might sounds like a serious and legitimate compromise, there is in fact very little difference between LPR status and citizenship.

    The main difference between LPRs and citizens is that only citizens can vote, but in almost all other respects, LPRs are equal with citizens. They have access to almost every welfare and entitlement program, meaning that the long-term costs of such a proposal would still total in the trillions of dollars.

    A pathway to LPR status also ignores the rule of law and rewards those who came here illegally by granting them legal residency ahead of those who followed the law. Importantly, such amnesty would also still act as a magnet for additional illegal immigration by rewarding those who illegally entered the country. After the U.S. passed amnesty in 1986, new unlawful immigrants came to the U.S., encouraged that they too could receive amnesty eventually. As a result, the U.S. now has over 11 million unlawful immigrants. Repeating the mistake of amnesty—be it by granting a path to citizenship or to LPR status—would result in even more illegal immigration and would stretch U.S. border resources even thinner than they are now.

    While the Senate seems fixated on tried-and-failed amnesty, the House is currently taking a different approach. For now, the House is rightly handling immigration reform in a piece-by-piece manner, as it allows each part of immigration policy to be considered and debated on its own merits. However, conservatives should beware of efforts to include a pathway to permanent residency as a concession to those who want amnesty. There is also the dangerous potential for each of the House’s smaller bills to be mashed together, which would allow a conference committee with the Senate to push amnesty into the House’s approach.

    Amnesty, whether leading to permanent residency or citizenship, is the wrong approach. Instead, there is a better way that enforces U.S. laws, enhances U.S. security, and enables legal immigrants to more easily pursue the American Dream.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    Comments are closed.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×