House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on Tuesday that he believes undocumented young people who entered the United States as children should be given legal residence and, eventually, citizenship, in what marks a reversal for the congressman who voted against the Dream Act less than three years ago.
“A good place to start is with the kids,” he said of immigration reform during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. “One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home.”
Cantor’s speech was part of a renewed effort to present a kinder, gentler GOP, particularly with regard to immigration. It also comes at a time when Republicans are moving toward the center on immigration reform and expressing some openness to giving legal status to some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Such a pathway to citizenship is a tough lift, and Cantor stopped short of endorsing it for the whole undocumented population.
The principles of the Dream Act, which passed the House in 2010 but failed in the Senate, have become significantly easier to support for Republicans now that wider legalization is being considered. A spokesman for Cantor did not respond to a request for comment on whether he supports the general form of the Dream Act to require young immigrants — who often call themselves Dreamers — to either attend college or join the military in order to gain legal status. Cantor did not discuss the bill by name.
Cantor said in his speech that he is “pleased” with bipartisan work in the House and Senate on immigration reform, but did not endorse a framework released last week by the upper chamber’s “gang of eight.” Earlier in the day, he would not give a yes or no answer when asked by CBS’ “This Morning” whether he is in favor of that framework, which gives a pathway to citizenship but ties green cards to border security.
CONTINUED at the Huffington Post. Video at link.