Becerra: House Immigration Reform Bill "Includes a Pathway to Citizenship"

PHOTO: becerraBill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., caucus chairman, hold a media availability immediately after the closed Democratic Caucus meeting in the Capitol on July 9.

A bipartisan immigration bill being drafted in the House will contain a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, one of the authors said on Friday.

Lawmakers working on the bill, known as the Gang of Seven, have refused to say when they plan to unveil it. But this is the first time one of the drafters has said the product will allow undocumented immigrants to earn full citizenship, and not just legal status.

"The bipartisan group is working on approval of this measure, which will touch upon all necessary aspects to deliver a healthy, sensible and comprehensive immigration reform," Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said in a Spanish-language interview that will air on Univision's Al Punto. "I'm telling you directly, it includes a pathway to citizenship."

Becerra did not discuss other specific elements of the bill. He said that, generally, Democrats are willing to accept tougher border security measures than exist under current law, but not "unfair" ones that could block a path to citizenship.

That's welcome news to immigrant-rights advocates. But a passing a pathway to citizenship remains an uphill climb in the House.

Many Republicans are dead set against such a pathway and a series of small-bore immigration bills being considered by the GOP-controlled House do not include a measure that deals with all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

With the Gang of Seven bill still under wraps, supporters of a pathway to citizenship do not have an actual proposal to latch onto. Becerra did not say when the Gang would introduce its bill. But he argued that it could put Republican leaders on the spot if it is formally offered: support a pathway to citizenship or sink immigration reform.

"Are they going to advocate for what's best for the country or what's best for their party?" he asked. "If [so], we'll have immigration reform. If they decide to do what some anti-immigrant Republicans are asking, then we'll have to restart the tussle."