Is Republican opposition to a pathway to citizenship melting away in the August heat?
With Congress on a five-week recess, members are back in their home districts. And during the past few days, a handful of lawmakers added their names to the list of Republicans willing to support immigration reform, which includes a path to citizenship.
These statements of support from Congressional members come as pro-immigration reform groups are laying on the pressure, with dozens of petition drives and rallies in their home districts. Advocates caution that not every member's statement means that they back a path to full citizenship. But they are cautiously optimistic that support for immigration reform is growing among House Republicans.
Here are a few that have spoken favorably on legalizing undocumented immigrants over August recess, according to local media reports.
|Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.)|
Webster is one of about two dozen "swing" Republican votes on immigration. And this week, advocates were pleased with his openness to a path to citizenship.
"We're a nation of immigrants, there's no question about that. But we're also a nation of laws," Webster said during an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. "I think we have to honor both of those."
The Florida lawmaker indicated he would back a pathway if several preconditions are met, including a 90 percent apprehension rate of illegal border crossers and allowing local law enforcement to help crack down on illegal immigration.
"We thank Congressman Webster for his support and encourage him to engage in comprehensive discussions with other House members and urge them to consider the real need and benefit to fixing our dysfunctional immigration system," said Ben Monterroso, executive director of the Latino advocacy group Mi Familia Vota.
|Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.)|
Like Webster, Schock said he could support a pathway to citizenship if certain preconditions are met based on border security and payment of back taxes.
"I think when that happens … and they haven't violated any laws and they have been here on a probationary period, then they can apply for citizenship and go to the back of the line," Schock said at a recent town hall meeting with constituents, according to a video posted online Monday.
"A pathway to citizenship is the only solution that keeps our families together while addressing our broken immigration system, and Congressman Schock did the right thing in supporting it," Mehrdad Azemun of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement said in response.
|Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)|
McCarthy is the third-ranking member of the House Republican leadership. He also represents a district that's more than 35 percent Hispanic.
Thus, McCarthy has come under heavy pressure from advocates to back immigration reform. Groups are planning to send a 1,100-car caravan to McCarthy's district to ask for his support.
At a town hall meeting this week, McCarthy indicated he's open to backing a legalizing many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, but stopped short of endorsing a full path to citizenship.
"What you then have to address is the 11 million that are here considered illegal," he said, according to the Daily Pilot newspaper. "I personally believe it's different for someone who's been here 30 years than if they've been here three months."
McCarthy did back a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, known as DREAMers. House Republicans are working on a bill addressing that issue. But advocates want the the California congressman to go one step further.
".@GOPwhip talks immigration at town hall, but no citizenship. Cmon, @kevinomccarthy, #timeisnow," tweeted the pro-immigration reform group America's Voice.