The Republican National Committee passed a resolution Friday calling on President Obama and Congress to pass immigration reform legislation before the end of the year, but it did not include a pathway to citizenship for any of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, unlike the bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate in June.
The resolution criticized the current system, calling it “premised upon obsolete public policy” and “outdated technology,” and said the “best deterrent to illegal immigration is a well-functioning program for legal immigration, which we do not have.”
The resolution called on the president and Congress to create a new work permit program, which, according to the resolution, would “allow foreign nationals who are currently in the country and have not violated any other laws of the U.S. to come forward and register and be allowed to remain and work in the U.S.”
The language, though, specifically excluded a path to citizenship. The work permit, which would need to be renewed every two years, would “not not result in application for citizenship nor any family members entering the U.S.” It would also require the immigrant to have “proof of continuous employment,” with no more than two months per year of unemployment.
The resolution called on Congress to create a special legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to America as children, a group known as “DREAMers” by immigration activists. The name came from the DREAM Act, legislation created for minors who were brought to this country illegally by their parents to be able to gain legal status.
Their classification for those brought to America as children also would include a work permit, but it would be renewable every five years. That, too, would have no pathway to citizenship and require proof of employment or attendance in school.
The resolution called for increased border security, including the completion of a border fence and increased law enforcement or military patrols, as well as mandatory employer use of the E-verify system.
The Senate Gang of Eight legislation, which includes a pathway to citizenship, passed with support from Democrats and Republicans and was pushed by stars of the party like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The immigration reform advocacy organization America’s Voice released a statement criticizing the Republican resolution that lacked a pathway to citizenship, saying their “vision of reform would consign millions of immigrants – including DREAMers – to a permanent underclass.”
“The RNC has passed a resolution calling for immigration reform by the end of the year. Okay, good start. But then they went downhill – fast,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice. “It says that you can graduate from our universities and serve in our armed forces, but you can’t be a citizen. It says you can scrub our floors, bus our tables, make our beds and care for our kids but you are not good enough to be one of us. It says you can get to the back of the bus, and never have a chance to earn the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”
The RNC passed other resolutions Friday on the last day of its summer meeting in Boston, including one blocking NBC and CNN from partnering with the GOP for any presidential debates during the 2016 primary process because they did not pull their pending films on Hillary Clinton. Others resolutions included one calling on Congress to “defund Obamacare” and one “protecting coal.”
News of the immigration resolution was first reported by Time.