House Judiciary chairman opposes pathway to citizenship

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee signaled opposition to passing an immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to citizenship.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the committee, argued in an interview with NPR that there's no need to pass an immigration bill with a pathway to citizenship.

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"People have a pathway to citizenship right now: It's to abide by the immigration laws, and if they have a family relationship, if they have a job skill that allows them to do that, they can obtain citizenship," Goodlatte said according to the NPR report on Thursday. "But simply someone who broke the law, came here, [to] say, 'I'll give you citizenship now,' that I don't think is going to happen."

Goodlatte's comments are particularly important because his committee handles immigration.

In the same interview Goodlatte also criticized President Obama's push for Congress to pass immigration reform. Recently, USA Today reported on leaked aspects of the White House's immigration reform plan. Obama has said that if Congress fails to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill he would push his own plan instead.

Obama and a number of Democrats have called for an immigration reform plan to include a pathway to citizenship.

"I think the president should calm down, back off and let the Congress do its work," Goodlatte added.

But he stressed that immigration reform should still be done. He said he would like to see an expanded guest-worker program for immigrant agricultural workers.

"You're going to have to have a program that assures those farms and those processing plants that there will be workers," Goodlatte said. "Because if you give them legal status, they can work anywhere in the United States — they're not going to necessarily work at the hardest, toughest, dirtiest jobs."