Report: House bill offers three distinct paths to citizenship

A bipartisan immigration proposal being readied in the House of Representatives would offer three distinct pathways to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The House proposal would divide illegal immigrants into three categories. The first would include agricultural workers and so-called "dreamers" — those who were brought to the United States illegally as children, but have since graduated from school or entered the military and otherwise avoided trouble with the law. Members of this group would qualify for expedited legal status.

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That's in contrast to illegal immigrants with existing family or employment in the United States. Currently, those in this group — often immigrants with an expired visa — are expected to return to their country for an extended period that can stretch to a decade before they are eligible to apply to legally re-enter the United States. Under the House plan, illegal immigrants in this group would still be required to return to their home countries, but for a shorter duration, being allowed to more quickly apply for legal status if they could prove they pay back taxes and fines and speak English.

The remaining group of illegal immigrants would see the longest path to eventual citizenship. Under the House plan, those workers could apply for provisional legal status if they came forward, admitted breaking the law, paid fines and back taxes, and spoke English. Under the plan, those immigrants would be allowed to stay in the country legally, but could only apply for a green card after 10 years. After holding the green card for an additional five years, the "provisional" immigrants could then apply for citizenship.


The House plan seems to stand in contrast with a Senate proposal being negotiated by the so-called "Gang of Eight," which reportedly includes only a single pathway to citizenship.

Still, lawmakers on both sides are optimistic a deal can be struck in the coming months. A Washington Post/ ABC News poll released Wednesday found 57 percent of Americans support the so-called "pathway to citizenship."

On Monday, the White House said they were "encouraged" by progress on an immigration bill.

"We are encouraged by the continuing signs of progress that we are seeing in the Senate as the Group of Eight, and the Senate more broadly, works on comprehensive immigration reform," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.