What Does 'Pathway to Citizenship' Mean in Immigration Reform?

In "Immigration Wars," Bush says that undocumented immigrants should not get citizenship at all. Instead, he proposes a path to permanent legal status, but not citizenship. As it stands now, green card holders are able to apply for citizenship after five years. But in the book, Bush lays out a plan that would create a new type of permanent legal status that would not lead to "the cherished fruits of citizenship." The plan would effectively create a second-class of citizenship -- someone with the ability to stay in the country permanently but without the full rights of a citizen.

In interviews earlier this month, Bush said that he's open to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, contradicting the stance in the book.

4. Rand Paul

The Republican senator from Kentucky, and potential presidential candidate, got people talking on Tuesday when early news reports said he was backing a path to citizenship. A few hours later, his stance wasn't so clear.

According to a speech Paul made Tuesday morning, he said that he supports the creation of a probationary status for undocumented immigrants, something similar to the first prong of Obama's pathway. Immigrants who qualify for such a visa would be able to live and work in the U.S., but would not have any special pathway to citizenship, as they would under the second prong of the Obama plan.

"They would get into the back of the line and get no special privileges to do so," a Paul adviser told the Washington Post. "What his plan is extending to them is a quicker path to normalization, not citizenship, and being able to stay, work and pay taxes legally."

Unlike Bush, Paul did not say that his plan would specifically bar undocumented immigrants from seeking citizenship. But if Congress were to create a probationary visa, as Paul proposes, it would also need to decide if such a visa would be eligible for a move to permanent residency or not. For example, guest worker programs are temporary by nature, and don't offer a path to citizenship. Paul hasn't made it clear whether his proposed visa would be more like a guest-worker program, or a visa where the person might be eligible to obtain permanent residency over time.

UPDATE, 5:10 p.m.

Sen. Rand Paul has clarified his stance on a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Apparently he's leery of the phrase "path to citizenship," but not the actual idea. Read about it here.

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